Climate activists lashed to EU building as leaders gather
Climate activists send off smoke flares from behind a banner on the Europa building during a climate demonstration outside an EU summit meeting in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
BRUSSELS -- Greenpeace activists scaled the European Union's new headquarters in Brussels on Thursday and unfurled a huge banner warning of a "climate emergency," hours before the bloc's leaders gather for a summit focused on plans to combat global warming.
Around 30 environmental activists clad in red and wearing climbing gear stood on ledges of the Europa building as police gathered below and a helicopter circled overhead. Some fired red flares into the air as curious commuters watched on.
A reporter from The Associated Press said around 20 activists on the ground were detained. The group managed to climb the building by using the ladder of an old fire truck and has enough food to last for two days, according to Greenpeace spokesman Mark Breddy.
The EU leaders are set to debate ways for the 28-nation bloc to become carbon neutral by 2050. But poorer coal-dependent nations fear they could be hardest hit by the effort to transform their energy sources.
"The world is on fire and our governments are letting it burn," Greenpeace Europe Director Jorgo Riss told the AP at the scene.
He acknowledged that it's important to go carbon neutral, but said the leaders should not "leave it to future generations to take actions. They are in power today, they need to take action today."
Ironically, the Europa building, known locally as The Egg and about 13 storeys high, was constructed in an eco-friendly way. The facade scaled by the activists is made of restored wooden window frames from renovation or demolition sites around Europe. Its roof is covered with solar panels an d the building r ecycles rain water.
On Wednesday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled a new "European Green Deal" with an offer of some 100 billion euros ($130 billion) to help fossil-fuel reliant EU nations that make the transition to lower emissions.
EU leaders will also discuss their long-term budget plans, economic developments. Britain's departure from the European Union will also be discussed in light of the country's election results, which will start to come through around midnight.