Tens of thousands protest in France, Belgium over climate crisis

People take part in a march called 'Rise for Climate' in Brussels, Belgium, 27 January 2019. More than 70,000 people take part at the march, according to the police. [Stephanie Lecocq/EPA/EFE]

Tens of thousands of people marched across France and in Belgium on Sunday (27 January) to protest the lack of state action to halt climate change.

Organisers said more than 80,000 people demonstrated in French towns and cities, while police in Brussels said 70,000 turned out in the Belgian capital.

The demonstrations were organised by an alliance of campaigning groups set up last year who have set a goal of monthly demonstrations on the issue.

Sunday’s marches were smaller than previous rallies, which in the past three months have mustered 100,000 people across France.

But an online petition they set up on the issue — at laffairedusiecle.net — has already gathered more than 2.1 million signatures and organisers want to hit three million.

“Onions, not concrete”, “Less consumption, more butterflies” were among the messages on placards at a demonstration in central Paris.

“It’s a movement that is taking root and diversifying,” Francois Dubreuil of the United for the Climate collective told France Inter radio.

As well as individual campaigners, many families attended the marches, AFP journalists noted.

“I’m here to try to slow down climate warming and to ensure that my daughter and my baby have the best planet possible,” said Charlotte, from the eastern city of Strasbourg.

“There’s still time,” she added, as she marched with her 15-month baby, while pregnant with her second child.

In Brussels, police estimated that around 70,000 people marched from the city’s Gare du Nord to the European Parliament.

People from across Belgium braved cold, rainy conditions to attend the march in the capital, and extra trains had to be laid on to bring them in, the Belgian news agency reported.

So many people were arriving for the Brussels climate march Sunday that it had to start half an hour early.

Sunday’s turnout was larger than the 65,000 who attended the last such march in Brussels on 2 December.

On Thursday, a march by school and university students brought 35,000 people out on to the streets of the Belgian capital.

In Brussels, students skip school for mass global warming protest

Thousands of Belgian school children skipped classes on Thursday (24 January) to flood Brussels in an unprecedented protest against global warming and pollution, vowing to miss school once a week until the government takes action.

“All disaster movies start with the government ignoring a scientist” read one placard at the Brussels demonstration.

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