Czech students occupy universities demanding climate action
University students across Czechia are taking part in protests against climate change, calling on the government to take immediate action to address global warming, soaring energy prices and growing social inequalities. The series of events, including sleep-in and sit-in protests as well as demonstrations, started on Monday and will culminate on Thursday with a march through Prague. I discussed the events with one of the organisers, Anežka Lindaurová:
“We have decided for the sit-in protest because we firmly believe that the government is not doing enough to prevent a climate crisis that is becoming our daily reality.
“The reason why it is happening now is that we are taking part in the international process that sparked the movement, which is occupying universities and protesting against climate injustice all over the world.
“The other reason why we decided the Czech event should take place in these days specifically is that the days around November 17 are traditionally associated with the student movement.”
You are calling on the government to take immediate action to address global warming. What exactly are your demands?
“We want our government to really prioritize the action that needs to be taken to defeat climate change. And what is really important for us is for the Czech government to start immediately closing the coal power plants that are still running.
“We also want them to invest into renewable energy but in a way that does not affect the working people and that makes those who are responsible for the climate crisis and those who are profiting off of the climate crisis to pay the bills the crisis is going to cost.”
The protests are taking place not only in Prague but all across the country. Do you know how many students are taking part?
“The exact number is hard to estimate, because there are a number of faculties taking part, even just here in Prague. But we believe that there are hundreds of students in the faculties. It is almost certainly over a thousands of students all across the country, but probably more, we hope.”
The series of protests will culminate with a march on November 17, but there are also other events taking place. Can you mention at least some of them?
“The programme doesn’t focus only on climate crisis. We are also trying to cover other related social topics, such as social inequality caused by the soaring energy prices.
“We are also focusing on gender topics, because we believe that is also something connected with the climate crisis, and we are debating climate justice and the transition from coal to renewables.”
“So we are trying to make all of this into a sort of alternative way of learning and we also make all our decisions on plenaries to ensure that our movement is not hierarchical.”
Finally, some people argue that occupying universities cannot really bring about any change. What would you say to that?
“Occupying universities is important. If it was just another petition or another protest, we wouldn’t get the type of attention that we are getting now.
“We really want to make the government act and we want to show them that there are many of us, that this is something that we care deeply about and that we are not afraid to be here and to mobilize if necessary.”