Greta Thunberg in Berlin: “Germany is one of the biggest climate villains”

Greta Thunberg in Berlin
“Germany is one of the biggest climate villains”

By Clara Suchy, Berlin

One last time, before the new government is elected, hundreds of thousands of people across Germany take to the streets for climate protection, including climate activist Greta Thunberg. The young Swede makes it clear what is at stake, but also gives hope to the Fridays for Future generation.

Thousands of people walk through the streets of Berlin, through the government district, past the Brandenburg Gate and finally towards the Bundestag. They crowd shoulder to shoulder at Republic Square. You want to see them. They cheer, scream and clap as the young woman on stage picks up the microphone. But when she starts to speak, it suddenly becomes quiet. The posters, the signs, the flags are lowered. Nobody moves. Everyone stares at Greta Thunberg, who says: “We want change, we demand change, we are change.” Then the crowd bursts into cheers and applause.

According to initial estimates, more than 600,000 people across Germany are taking part in the climate strike this Friday. Instead of going on strike as usual in Stockholm, the initiator of the movement is running in Berlin. Because Germany has a very special meaning: “Germany is objectively one of the greatest climate villains,” says Thunberg. With around 80 million inhabitants, the Federal Republic of Germany is one of the largest emitters of CO2 in the world. “That’s quite an achievement,” she says and grins. In the audience you look at each other and sometimes smile nervously.

Of course, Germany has a special meaning this Friday for a second reason. A long summer of climate activism is at its peak. In two days, Germany will elect a new Bundestag that will implement the climate targets for the next four years in the building behind Thunberg. But the climate activist does not feel that this election has really become a climate election. “Not a single party is even remotely in a position to propose a path that is compatible with the Paris Agreement,” says the 18-year-old Swede.

The young generation is fighting

She is not alone in making this assessment. Two hours before Greta, Johan is on the same stage. Johan is only 12 years old. “I feel powerless,” he says. He may only put his cross in the next but one general election. But by then – according to the majority of scientists – Germany’s CO2 budget will have long been used up. “Will I still have a choice?” The seventh grader asks the group out loud.

A large proportion of the people who have gathered today are also not yet eligible to vote. Students can be seen everywhere – they skip lessons. The generation that is not allowed to cast their vote wants to be quiet. They shout sentences like: “We are here, we are loud because you are stealing the future from us!” Because although it is not the first time for many that they skip school on a Friday to demonstrate for the 1.5-degree goal, they still have the feeling that they are still not being heard. “In my opinion, the climate issue has not become important enough in the election campaign,” says 15-year-old Jonas Rosen. “If that were the case, we wouldn’t be here today.”

“It feels really shitty. Because you don’t feel like you’ve been seen, unless you’re here on a demo,” says 15-year-old Kolja from Berlin. And although he is not allowed to vote – or perhaps because of that – he hopes to be able to make a difference with his presence: “Shortly before the federal elections, you can still achieve a lot if you really show presence because many are still undecided about their voting decision . “

For an 18-year-old Berliner, who will be able to take part in a federal election for the first time this year, one thing is clear: “The most important issue that was considered during the election was the parties’ climate policy.” She can understand Jonas and Johan. “We’re angry that responsibility for this problem has been left to us. It’s really up to us now because the last generation didn’t care at all.”

The 1.5 degree choice

The fact that the topic of climate even appeared in the election campaign was mainly due to the young Fridays for Future generation. It is you who have been taking to the streets around the world for 148 weeks and demonstrating for more climate policy. That was not entirely without success: “We got every democratic party to commit to climate protection and to write down 1.5 degrees,” says climate activist and Fridays for Future representative Luisa Neubauer, who speaks to Thunberg.

And although “it is sometimes tough”, movements like “Fridays-for-Future” are more important than ever to force politicians to follow their words with deeds. In the past you have seen what happens if you don’t exert enough pressure: “We have learned that the federal government makes such bad climate policies that the constitutional court had to intervene,” says the 25-year-old Neubauer. “And they’re not even embarrassed anymore.”

That is why it is now time to “get started and ensure that not a single day goes by in the next legislative period in which the climate crisis is lost sight of”. Neubauer wants to look back on this Friday in four years and be able to say “that this was the beginning of the most climate-friendly legislature ever, ever”.

“There is no turning back now”

This legislative period begins in a few days and, according to scientific estimates, will actually be the last in which active action can be taken against the climate crisis. After the floods and fires that left their mark across Europe this year, according to an IPCC report that once again made politicians aware of the urgency of the climate crisis, the demonstrators hope for a turnaround in climate policy.

For Greta Thunberg, it’s about more than just a choice. “We can no longer leave that to the powerful,” she says. Choosing is important, but choosing alone is no longer enough. Because the protest movement on the street is forcing every politician to “take real climate protection measures,” says the 18-year-old at the end of her speech. “We must never give up. There is no turning back now. But we can still turn the tide.”

source site