| 30 May 2024, Thursday |

Germany: Fridays for Future protests kick off with Greta Thunberg in Berlin

Ahead of the Germany’s federal election on Sunday, Fridays for Future protests are being held across Germany as climate activists seek to make their voices heard.

Founder Greta Thunberg, who joined the event in Berlin, told demonstrators that “no political party is doing even close to enough” to fight the climate crisis.

“Yes, we must vote, you must vote, but remember that voting only will not be enough. We must keep going into the streets,” Thunberg said at the rally in front of the Reichstag parliament building.

Aside from Berlin, protests are also taking place in Hamburg, Freiburg, Cologne and Bonn. The demonstrations in Germany are just one part of a worldwide climate strike that includes 1,400 events in 80 countries. Luisa Neubauer, who heads the Fridays for Future German chapter, told French news agency AFP that they wanted to “create pressure from the streets” ahead of the September 26 vote.

“The political parties haven’t taken the climate catasteophe seriously enough, Neubauer said, adding that young people wanted “no more excuses” from older politicians about the state of the world they will leave behind.

Jana Boltersdorf, another young climate activist, told DW she was marching “to give a voice to those who are not old enough to vote, but will suffer the most as a result of the climate crisis.”

Carla Reemstma, one of the organizers of the Fridays for Future rallies in Germany, told DW that politicians “are not treating the climate crisis like a crisis.”

“We demand immediate actions to lower emissions, to stop fueling the climate crisis [and] to stop financing fossil fuels like coal and gas,” she said.

“None of them [the candidates for chancellor] has a political program consistent with limiting the climate crisis… Instead, most of the political parties are fueling the climate crisis through building new coal power plants, highways or gas pipelines,” she added.

As Chancellor Angela Merkel’s 16-year stint draws to a close, the leader once touted as the “climate chancellor” has failed to push forward any significant environmental legislation in the past decade.

In a landmark ruling in April, Germany’s top court found the government’s plans to curb CO2 emissions “insufficient” to meet the targets of the Paris Agreement and placed an unfair burden on future generations.

Speaking at the site of catastrophic flooding in western Germany in July, Merkel called on her successor to do more to tackle climate change, but did not address her own climate legacy.

With the Green Party polling in third place ahead of the election, it is possible that they could end up as a junior coalition partner in the next government, particularly considering that polls also show the climate as one of the most important topics to German voters.

However, the Greens’ platform has been criticized as not being aggressive enough to combat the climate crisis by environmental experts.