Dutch students march for climate as protests spread
Thousands of Dutch students skipped classes to march for action on climate change on Thursday, following the example of young demonstrators in Belgium and other countries for the first time.
Carrying banners with slogans like “Make Our Planet Great Again” and “Make Love, Not Carbon Dioxide”, the children streamed through the centre of The Hague to urge governments to take action.
Dutch media said they counted around 4,000 students taking part but organisers said up to 15,000 people attended, with trains into the city packed full of young people.
“I’m here to be a part of a movement that shows the government that there’s a lot of people that care about our climate, about our world,” Hugo Kapteijn, 16, a student from Hilversum, near Amsterdam, told AFP.
“We want the government to step up and take action against the horrific practices of businesses and polluters and everything like that.”
Pierre Viguier, 16, who is also from Hilversum, added: “It’s our generation that is coming so it will be up to us to deal with the consequences of what is happening now.”
“So if we change now, we will have less to change (in future)”.
Many children skipped school to take part but some colleges allowed their students to take part, Dutch media said.
The Dutch protests are part of a wider network of student-led protest groups that have seen tens of thousands of young people around the world ditch school to demand action against climate change in recent months.
Some of the biggest have been in neighbouring Belgium where students have been taking to the streets every Thursday for several weeks.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he thought the protests were “fantastic” but added that his cabinet had already taken far-reaching measures on climate change.
“Kids, what more do you want?” the NOS broadcaster quoted him as saying.
The Dutch government was ordered by a Dutch court last year to slash greenhouse gases by at least 25 percent by 2020, following a legal challenge by an environmental group.
With much of its territory lying below sea level the Netherlands is particularly vulnerable to climate change.
But despite its environmentally friendly image, the country is in fact heavily reliant on gas and has lagged behind on introducing renewable sources of energy.