Dutch scientists support pupils protesting for climate measures

A protest for more action against climate change in Paris, 14 Oct 2018
A protest for more action against climate change in Paris, 14 Oct 2018Photo: Brasilnut/DepositPhotos

In an open letter published in Trouw, 350 Dutch scientists expressed support for school pupils protesting for the climate on Thursday. It is expected that around 10 thousand Dutch pupils will skip school on Thursday to call on the government to do more against climate change.

"On the basis of the facts provided by climate science, the activists are absolutely right. We as scientists therefore support this action", the scientists, including leading environmental and climate experts and academics, said in the letter. The scientists refer to the latest report by the United Nations' scientific climate panel IPCC, which warns that the earth's temperature will rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if the CO2 emissions are not addressed. This will have disastrous consequences for the climate and humanity. 

"It is high time for political leadership", they said. "We can not afford to wait any longer with necessary measures. If political leadership goes hand in hand with effective measures and behavioral change, then we can solve this problem in time. Otherwise the group of young people who are protesting for their own future this week, will be the victims."

Minister Arie Slob for Primary and Secondary Education previously said that he is sympathetic with the pupils who want to take action, but they will still be marked absent for skipping school. The truants will likely not immediately face a school attendance officer, because schools can decide for themselves how to deal with incidental absenteeism, according to NU.nl. The school only has to report absenteeism to the municipality if a student is absent for more than 16 hours in a period of four weeks. 

According to the school attendance officers, there is formally only talk of truancy "if the school does not find this activity in line with the curriculum". If the school finds the action justified, it does not have to report the absenteeism. 

Last week Thursday tens of thousands of Belgian pupils already skipped school to demand that the Belgian government take more action to combat climate change. Over 3,400 Belgian scientists expressed support for these pupils, also in an open letter addressed to the government.