Thousands protest in Belgium as COP24 begins in Poland

World Today

Delegates from nearly 200 nations begin the 24th UN climate talks in Poland. It’s been three-years since the landmark Paris deal to cut carbon emissions. Scientists warn the world is still on track for a dangerous rise in global temperatures.

Poland itself remains dependent on coal, generating 80-percent of its power. Meanwhile, thousands rally in Belgium for more action on climate change. CGTN’s Mariam Zaidi reports from the crowds in Brussels.

It was a carnival atmosphere in downtown Brussels but the beat of drums was a call to arms for the biggest cause of all, saving the planet.

As the UN Climate Conference kicked off in Poland to highlight and promote ways to combat climate change, people gathered in Brussels, Belgium, to “claim the climate.” They wanted this to be the biggest mobilization of people to get their voice heard on climate change.

With Brussels providing the backdrop, some took aim at Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel. But would world leaders hear them? “Well, I hope they will because they’re supposed to represent the people of the whole world since it’s global. So I wish they will,” said one of the demonstrators.

Carrying banners and props, in costume and in song, police put the figures of those taking part in the demo at 65,000.

Countries and companies rallied to protect the Paris Climate Change Agreement after US President Donald Trump’s pullout in June 2017. But the European Commission wanted to go further than capping emissions to below 2 degrees centigrade. It wants Europe to be climate neutral by 2050.

Zero emissions will need people to leave their cars at home. And, at least on Sunday, in honor of COP 24, all public transport was free.

As the demonstrators reached the EU heartland, the songs and the sheer noise had grown even louder. Even if perhaps the weather had turned murkier. But from here all eyes now turn to Poland. Will leaders do more to save the planet?