Student climate activists march in Prague, will protest until Thursday

The students want the Czech government to end reliance on fossil fuels and do more to address the climate crisis. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 03.05.2023 09:27:00 (updated on 03.05.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Several dozen student climate activists protested against the Czech government's energy policy in the center of Prague yesterday afternoon, marching from the Finance Ministry to the Industry and Trade Ministry, where they plan to stay until Thursday.

The protest event was organized by the Universities for Climate (Univerzity za klima), which staged a student strike last November, during which students spent nights in faculty buildings.

"We are expressing our dissatisfaction with our government acting very inadequately and doing very little in tackling the climate crisis," Marie Skalková told ČTK on behalf of the organizers.

She said the students had met the government representatives twice after last year's strike, but the talks had led nowhere.

"The only thing that the government representatives were able to promise us, among many vague statements, was that the Czech Republic would stop burning coal by 2033," the activist said. However, she added, this was in contradiction with the mining authority recently deciding to extend the mining permit for the Bílina coal mine until 2035.

The Industry and Trade Ministry said in March that the mining extension was not incompatible with the government's goal of coal exit by 2033.

Students want the Czech government to take action

The protesters gathered outside the Finance Ministry before 4 p.m. They wrote slogans with chalk on the pavement, such as "No balanced state budget on a dead planet" and "Fund renewable sources, not fossil capitalism." The students chanted similar slogans during their march, which was monitored by police officers from the anti-conflict team.

After about two hours, the protesters marched to the Industry and Trade Ministry, where some of them intend to spend two nights. "We think that this is the ministry that has a major influence on the energy mix in our country and that this ministry should be the most proactive," said Jan Kubišta, another student spokesman, said.

On Twitter yesterday, the group announced they had arrived at the Industry and Trade Ministry to demand a clear plan to divert from coal "so that the transformation does not touch ordinary people, but polluters pay for it."

Ready for another day of protests

On Facebook this morning, the group said that they slept well even though it wasn't exactly warm or quiet, and they were in a good mood and determined for today.

"What did we experience yesterday? After coming from the march, we decorated the area in front of the ministry and listened to an author's literature and a DJ set in the evening," they said. More concerts and lectures are planned for today.

The activists are also demanding that Czechia withdraw from the Energy Charter, which, they say, brings nothing to the country and only gives energy corporations a tool for blackmail through international arbitrations. Besides, they demand that the fossil fuel exit do not endanger the people employed in this sector, Kubišta said.

The Universities for Climate movement was founded in the spring of 2019 in response to the Fridays for Future secondary-school activity, initiated by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

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