BELGIUM - For a fourth week, tens of thousands of children have skipped school in Belgium to join protests demanding tougher action against climate change. Ahead of the marches in Brussels, Liège and Leuven, dozens of children protested outside the home of Belgium’s environment minister. New impetus came in an open letter from 3,450 Belgian scientists saying “the activists are absolutely right”. Youth demonstrations have also taken place in Germany and Switzerland.More than 30,000 students and others turned out in three Belgian cities, slightly down on last week. The biggest number, according to police, was in the eastern city of Liège (Luik in Flemish) where 15,000 people marched to the city hall. Protesters clapped and chanted “to arms” and “everyone together”, said local journalist Benjamin Hermann. Another 12,500 children turned out in Brussels and a further 3,500 in Leuven (Louvain in French). In Brussels primary and secondary schoolchildren were marching through the city centre from north to south, and they were joined by groups of grandparents.

Isidore Vlassenroot, 12, at school in Ghent: “I am marching because I believe we should make our voice heard as young people. It is very special to be part of such a huge crowd. We all have the same goal: a better planet. So many children wanting a better planet is something very unique. We have four ministers and no climate policy, which is very sad.”

Koen Vlassenroot, Isidore’s father: “This is a unique moment in Belgian history and I’m glad my son is part of it. We as parents have the moral duty to support them; they show the courage our generation lacked, and now stand up to protect their future and demand [politicians] act more responsibly. I agree that he is missing school, but being part of such a movement is very educational. I want my son to be conscious about challenges such as climate change.”

Luka De Wever, 17, sister of protest organiser Anuna De Wever: “All over the country, people are gathering to march and get the attention of the politicians to change their policy. I am very proud of what my sister has done together with Kyra [Gantois, another protest organiser], Greta [Thunberg, Swedish climate-change protester] and many others. Either we act now or there will be no more time to. I believe we will be able to make a difference, not only in Belgium, but all over the world.”