Klimaatactivisten and yellow shirts: ‘We are waging the same battle’

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Klimaatactivisten en gele hesjes: ‘Wij voeren dezelfde strijd’

The campaigners used it in their blockade also barrels filled with concrete.

Klimaatactivisten and cardigans jaunes beat today to join forces for the blockage of a bank and an oil depot. Is that not a strange marriage? “The culprits for the climate crisis and the social crisis are the same.’

‘The police are asking that people who want to work, to let go”, sounds through the megaphone. ‘We want that?’ While the commissioner of the Brussels police is watching, chanting the campaigners …

‘The police are asking that people who want to work, to let go”, sounds through the megaphone. ‘We want that?’ While the commissioner of the Brussels police is watching, chant the activists loudly: ‘Noooon’, and then they begin to sing: ‘Keep, keep, keep the ground. Keep, keep, keep the ground.’ An employee of BNP Paribas Fortis on the phone with a colleague, says: ‘Keep at home. They have food and they have booze. They do not look like they will soon leave.”

Klimaatactivisten en gele hesjes: ‘Wij voeren dezelfde strijd’

Photo: sebastian steveniers

It is 9 hours. Two hours earlier, a honderdtwintigtal activists toegestroomd to the headquarters of BNP Paribas Fortis to the Brussels north station. From a small van they had iron barrels filled with concrete, chains, and banners with slogans like ‘Save the climate’. They blocked the entrance to the building, determined to let no one in. ‘Criminals’, they wrote with pink paint on the large windows of the bank building.

“Financial sector makes a profit on the desolate planet

‘BNP Paribas Fortis is one of the most polluting Belgian banks, ” says Roeland Ghys of Act for Climate Justice, the organisation behind the action, and previously a national reputation acquired with an sms campaign against the then minister of Nature Joke Schauvliege (CD&V). “Between 2014 and 2016, the bank’s 26 billion euros in fossil fuels – while reports of the United Nations to write that more than 90 per cent of them under the ground. The financial sector continues to make a profit on the destruction of the planet.”

Klimaatactivisten en gele hesjes: ‘Wij voeren dezelfde strijd’

Photo: sebastian steveniers

BNP Paribas Fortis wants, the amount of 26 billion euro to confirm or deny this, but it goes deeper into the principle of investing in fossil fuels. According to the bank she would be irresponsible to take risks in relation to its customers by exclusively in green energy investment. Moreover, it sounds in a press release, ” BNP Paribas by 2020, 15 billion euros to invest in renewable energy. That is a doubling compared with a number of years ago. We also have a fund created of 100 million euros, which invests in innovative companies that seek a solution for the energy transition.’

The ‘biggest polluters must bear all costs’

Prior to the action in Brussels blocked Act for Climate Justice tonight a oil depot from Total in Feluy, just south of the capital. They prevented lorries to the depot to drive. That action kept the klimaatactivisten together with the cardigans jaunes – the yellow shirts – which are mainly in Wallonia for many months actievoeren against the decrease of the purchasing power, that they due to the taxes that the government on products matters.

It is a remarkable collaboration: the yellow vests find their origin in a protest against the high price of diesel – a fossil fuel. They would like the taxes the government then has, see it disappear, so that driving becomes cheaper. Many of them live in regions where without a car life, as they say themselves, ‘impossible’ is.

So: klimaatactivisten who are against fossil fuels, together with yellow vests that fossil fuels more accessible to see. And yet, says Ghys, ‘we will implement the same fight’. “We find both that the culprits for the climate crisis and the social crisis are the same: multinational companies and the large financial sector. They are the biggest polluters, so they should pay for the costs thereof, and the solutions pay, not the ordinary citizen.’

Klimaatactivisten en gele hesjes: ‘Wij voeren dezelfde strijd’

Photo: sebastian steveniers

He also refers to the announced closure of the offices of the bank, which jobs on the slope. “Both are a symptom of a profit driven logic that workers and the environment as wegwerpgoederen considers.’

‘Civil disobedience is all we have left’

The campaigners in Brussels shared a letter to the employees that they are not at work let go. That were many: in the building of BNP Paribas Fortis’n two thousand people. Around 9 o’clock the square in front of the bank building full of surprised workers. A few people tried it to the touch, without success, frustration as a result.

Despite the excuses of the protesters – ‘we are sorry for the inconvenience, we do this for you, ” was the understanding by the workers is restricted. “I think the climate is also important,” says Ann Regnart. “But in actions like this, nobody is waiting. They make themselves ridiculous and bring the whole klimaatbeweging discredited. More even: preventing people from working, will the problems just bigger. It is thanks to prosperity and surpluses that there are opportunities to do something. Let the economy and technology go on their way.’

Ike Teuling (36), a Brussels with Dutch roots and a ten-year klimaatactivist’, it would also be annoying to find if they could not go to work’. “But this is about much more than the working day of some of the people,” she says. “I’ve done everything: demonstrations, surveys, … Nothing helps. Civil disobedience is the only thing we have left. We can not do anything else, we want the government and banks to be put under pressure to change. Here we are with so many, shows that people believe. At five o’clock to get up to a whole day out in the cold to come, with the risk in the cell to the end, no one does that for fun.’