Climate campaigners in Belgium have 267,617 reasons why the country’s politicians should intensify efforts to tackle global warming.
That is the number of people who signed a petition demanding more effort in addressing the issue.
The recent unusually high temperatures in Belgium and elsewhere have, for many, highlighted the pressing emergency posed by climate change.
The EU wants to reach agreement with member states on climate neutrality by 2050. Agreement on this, though, failed to materialise at last week’s EU summit in Brussels following opposition from some countries in Eastern and Central Europe.
Under the so-called “Sign for my Future” initiative, a petition signed by some 267,617 people in Belgium calls on its politicians to implement a “strong climate policy” in the next Belgian parliamentary legislature. The petition was signed between February 5 and May 16.
Over 400 people, including academics, business leaders and directors of civil society organizations, have also agreed to act as “ambassadors” for the campaign.
The idea is to make Belgium climate neutral by 2050 and representative survey shows that Belgians support these measures.
The campaign, specifically, has made three demands, each of which are supported by the “Sign for my Future” campaign, described as an unprecedented coalition of volunteers.
The demands include a legal anchor of the objective of climate neutrality in Belgium by 2050; a socially just investment plan that encourages citizens and businesses to make the transition and, thirdly, an independent climate council composed of experts.
The signatures call on all parties to work together, transcending political divides, in order to begin the transition to a climate neutral society. They insist such a transition is feasible and a wise economic choice, provided that a long-term policy is pursued.
A spokesman for the campaign said, “We call on all politicians to agree beyond the borders of their parties and to work together. We believe that such a complex transition is only possible if all the actors in society and the world of business participate in it and if everyone assumes its responsibilities.”
Sign for my Future is backed, among others, by La Quincaillerie, a leading Brussels restaurant whose environmental-friendly policies includes focusing on local supplies and suppliers.
Its manager Sebastien Rome explained why they had got involved, telling this website, “We feel very concerned with the climate and this also in our policy with our suppliers, for example.”
He added, “We do not work with suppliers who are based far away from us. Instead, we choose to work with Belgian suppliers except for the poultry, pork and lamb as they come from our own farm in France (Bresse région).”
Separately, a survey of 2,000 Belgians was conducted on the climate issue. This is said to show that there is broad support for climate measures and that Belgians are also ready to make efforts. At the same time, Belgians expect its government to introduce smarter taxation and facilitate climate-related investments.
For example, 72% of Belgians say they are ready to contribute to the transition to a climate-neutral society and 63% are willing to invest in climate solutions as long as they can recover their investment.
Some 66% of Belgians think that a big investment plan is necessary and 6 out of 10 Belgians think that there should be a tax shift that is beneficial for the climate without imposing new taxes. In terms of mobility, 69% believe that the government should double its investments in public transport. Finally, 74% believe that the government must ensure the preservation of existing open spaces.
“This survey and the number of people who are backing Sign for my Future provide a strong mandate to begin the climate transition. There is strong support from the people. The solutions are there; academics and businesses and civil society are ready to build a climate-neutral Belgium with them. It is now up to politicians to be climate-minded and to work with leadership to preserve our future,” said the spokesman.