Citizens are being urged to converge on Brussels later this month for a major “awareness-raising” march on climate action. The march, expected to attract thousands of people, will start at 1pm at Brussels’s Gare du Nord on 27 January and end at Schuman, the heart of the EU Quarter.
The aim of the event, called “Rise for Climate”, is to put pressure on the EU and member states to step up action against climate change. It comes soon after the European Commission, just before Christmas, announced its new long-term strategy on how best to achieve large-scale reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Sebastian Mang, EU climate policy adviser at Greenpeace, one of the organisations behind the march, said governments had to choose if they wanted to approve the EU plan or reject it. A third option, to improve the strategy, is the preference for green activists, he said.
He explained, “Only by speeding up cuts to CO2 emissions will we be able to mitigate against the worst impact of climate change. We are calling on governments to improve the strategy because this is the only way they are going to be able to meet the Paris climate targets. The idea of the march is to put yet more pressure on member states to, at the very least, accept the commission’s climate strategy. The message is that now is the time for Europe to act on this and to go further than the commitments that have, so far, been made.”
He went on, “But this message is aimed not just at politicians but also citizens across Europe. We want as many people to come out on the streets on 27 January and show their support for this initiative.”
He said, “Time is running out and 2019 is going to be a make or break year for climate policy. This is when national governments will have to decide if they are going to support or improve the EU climate strategy.”
Further comment came form Karen Naessens, also of Greenpeace, who told the briefing, “We realise that one march will not, on its own, change EU climate policy but we feel sure that, if enough people turn out, it can help make a big difference.”
Brussels resident Gaetano Boutcher said, “Our children will not forgive us if we do not act now. “A major climate drama is unfolding and, if we are not careful, large parts of the earth will become uninhabitable in years to come.”
He forecast that temperatures in Brussels, for example, could rise to as much as 50C by the year 2050. He added, “The problem is that governments, currently, are just not doing enough to counter this very very serious threat to our planet.” Greenpeace says that the EU’s current policies are not in line to keep the global temperature increase to 1.5C.
It says the EU needs to commit to full de-carbonisation by 2040 and the EU’s 2030 targets must reflect the findings of the IPCC special report on 1.5C “which shows the next decade is critical.” This month’s march follows a similar one in San Francisco last year that attracted tens of thousands.
More details on the Brussels’ march for climate