Climate demonstrators in Brussels marched in the thousands on Sunday, to let the world leaders at the U.N. climate summit due to start soon in Glasgow know that the world’s eyes are on them.

The U.N.’s 26th Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will begin in Glasgow, Scotland on October 31, 2021, with delegates from most of the U.N. member nations. Delayed a year by the pandemic, this summit is meant to incorporate the Paris Agreement into the United Nations Framework on Climate Change. All participating nations are expected to present plans and commitments for reducing climate impact.

Before the pandemic, climate demonstrators in Brussels marched weekly, making sure their lawmakers and the lawmakers of the EU knew how high a priority their citizenry found the matter. This march aimed to be the largest such demonstration since the marches stopped for public safety in early 2020.

While many of these marches were heavily made up of students, this one featured every demographic from families pushing strollers to grandfathers with white hair and walkers. Banners mixed English, French, and Dutch, and many came dressed as animals on the verge of extinction, like the polar bear. Mask-wearing was inconsistent, but with one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, Brussels has relaxed restrictions.

“After you’ve seen all the disasters we have seen this summer, it’s really crucial that we move now. Because everybody knows what the problem is,” said Xavier De Wannemaeker, a protester with Extinction Rebellion, one of over 80 organizations that turned out for the march.

What the problem really is, according to climate scientists from all over the world, is fossil fuel and industry emissions. The evidence supports a direct, causal link between those emissions and extreme weather events like the droughts, fires, heatwaves, blizzards, and floods that have happened this year alone. These demonstrators hopes that the tone of the summit will demand commitment from its members about emissions reduction.

Photo by Alexandros Michailidis /