Students occupy Prague universities this week to protest climate change

At sleep-ins, sit-ins and protests throughout the capital's universities, young changemakers are calling on the Czech govt. to act on global warming. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 15.11.2022 09:27:00 (updated on 15.11.2022) Reading time: 3 minutes

Czech university students began a series of protests against climate change Monday, demanding that the government take immediate action to address global warming, the soaring prices of energy, and growing social inequalities.

Students from Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Ústí nad Labem, Hradec Králové, and Pilsen have joined campus sit-in protests expected to last until Wednesday. They will culminate in a march on Nov. 17, the Czech commemoration of the Velvet Revolution.

The demonstration is organized by the Universities for Climate (Univerzity za Klima) movement which has also planned an ongoing program of events for protesters who plan to occupy universities, some of them overnight, reports ČTK.

Prague protests began on Monday before noon, with some 80 students gathering in the capital's Jan Palach Square holding banners declaring, "If the planet were a bank, politicians would save it," "We want a change, but not of climate" and "Our future is in your hands."

The protest's organizers read their demands to the Czech government and university boards, baked by chants of "End to coal!" and "Climate justice."

Among the demands listed on the Universities for Climate site is a request for the government to prioritize a solution to the climate crisis and rapidly curb the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming. Activists also called on the government to end coal-powered plants in the Czech Republic by 2033.

“All of us know that there is the need to close the coal-powered power plants and replace them with renewable sources of energy. The transformation must be fair and it must not hit the working and most vulnerable population groups," student activist Anežka Lindaurová told ČTK.

Student protesters at a previous demonstration / photo via Univerzity za klima
Student protesters at a previous demonstration / photo via Univerzity za klima

Protesters are also appealing to the Czech government to establish a special ministry or government post devoted to fighting against climate change and its global impact. The group also called on universities to be made sustainable by the year 2027.

"We demand that the Czech Republic immediately withdraws from the Energy Charter Treaty and puts pressure on other EU member states to do so as well. It is imperative that the transition of the state is sustainable, democratic, and just," the group wrote on its site

Following Monday's initial gathering, students continued on to campuses throughout the Czech capital including the Faculty of Arts of Charles University (UK), the Faculty of Social Sciences of UK, the Faculty of Humanitarian Studies of UK, and the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design (UMPRUM) to participate in public debates, lectures, screenings, and workshops devoted to climate change, energy poverty, and social inequality.

Univerzity za klima
Univerzity za klima

Student protesters have stressed that the strike is not targeted against the boards or staff of the universities. However, Seznam zprávy reports that while most faculties are allowing protesters to sleep over, others see the students' actions as contradictory to their cause.

The management of the Faculty of Arts of Charles University (FF UK) said that while it agrees with the student's position, because of the overnights protests, the consumption of energy and water will increase considerably, along with the operating costs.

"The estimated financial costs [for us due to] increased traffic in the building during a three-day strike without sleeping over is about CZK 50,000. These are the costs of increased water, sewage, hygiene needs, waste collection, cleaning, security, energy, and more. We consider this aspect of the whole event to be significantly contradictory in the context of the demands of the occupiers on universities. Climate responsibility should go hand in hand with resource responsibility, in any form," the university said on its website.

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