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On Saturday, March 2, an estimated 150 activists from the climate movement Extinction Rebellion Belgium and the Netherlands blocked the Cantersteen road in Brussels. Ahead of the Belgian elections, they demand an end to fossil fuel subsidies and fossil energies, under the slogan "Let's Be Fossil Free". In a joyful but determined slow march, they also took over streets from Place Royale to the Palais de Justice, disrupting traffic.

Instead of facilitating their non-violent protest, police forced the activists off the road at Cantersteen, took note of their identity cards, and confiscated materials. Riot police encircled the activists, despite the fact that Extinction Rebellion uses non-violent methods of protest.

  • *"The last year was again the hottest on record, leaving destruction in its wake. But we have a real chance to avoid the worst harms: Belgium can take decisive action now and stop investing in the very fossil fuels that are pushing the planet to its brink. All it needs to do is to act now. End fossil fuel subsidies, and stop building fossil fuel infrastructure,"* says Xavier from Extinction Rebellion.
  • *"The public's money that Belgian and European politicians are currently investing in fossil fuels needs to be used for a just transition and renewable future. This needs to be socially just, so the money must be used to especially support poor communities,"* says Morgane from Extinction Rebellion.

Ahead of the Belgian and European elections scheduled for June 2024, the movement demands an immediate end to fossil fuel subsidies, to the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure in Belgium, and a transition to renewable energy that protects the most vulnerable and poor. According to the most recent government figures available from 2020, Belgium subsidised fossil fuels with 12,9 billion euros. In fact, 2.4% of the Belgian GDP were used for direct subsidies. Despite the climate destruction they cause, the Belgian government is also currently plans to subsidise the construction of three new fossil gas plants, according to Tegengas-Degaze (in Seraing, Flémalle and Wondelgem), and other companies are in the process of demanding permits. Subsidising fossil fuels directly funds climate destruction, which is in violation of Belgium's international law obligations, Extinction Rebellion notes. They are not the only ones demanding this: According to the European Investment Bank, 82% of Belgians say they consider the climate crisis the biggest threat of the 21st century, and 70% of them are in favor of stricter government measures for the climate.

Extinction Rebellion is a decentralised global movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to persuade governments to act on the climate and ecological emergency. This is the second time this year that Extinction Rebellion is taking direct action in Brussels: On January 28, activists blocked traffic on Cantersteen. The movement has announced that they will carry out a wave of diverse actions leading up to the elections. *"*We will come back again, and again, and again - until our message rings through to our politicians," says Alena from Extinction Rebellion.

Photos are available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1Bi1xiw5BVCmejXGeviQ6nIqRgX8LOpOu?usp=drive_link


For any press questions: Alena, +32 491 91 69 21 (EN/FR) or Florian, +32 484 87 19 14 (EN/NL)

Journalists are welcome to be in touch ahead of the next action, which is planned for April 6.

https://www.extinctionrebellion.be ​​​​​​​

Published by

XR Brussels (EN)