Brussels (AP) – Thousands of teenagers in Belgium skipped school for the fourth Thursday in a row Jan. 31, in an attempt to push authorities into providing better protection for the world’s climate.
Police say the march through Brussels drew at least 12,500 students, and another march in eastern Liege had at least as many protesters as the youth movement spread further across the country. In Leuven, close to Brussels, there were more than 3,000 protesters, including many primary school pupils.
The sustained success of the marches comes despite some school measures to dissuade students who continue to stay away every Thursday. It started with a few thousand four weeks ago and swelled to 35,000 last week.
The protests have kept a focus on climate change as a political pressure point before national and European Union elections, after 70,000 demonstrators held a climate march through Brussels on Sunday.
“They left us a planet in a bad shape so it is our job to change that,” said 17-year-old student Manon Wilmart. “But we can do it. We are younger and we know that we can do it. We are in the mood to change the climate, to change everything.”
On top of the student march itself, about 3,400 academics also published an open letter in support of the grassroots movement.