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Global Economy

"What the government is doing is not enough"

It is gloomy and cool, with a large animated globe emblazoned on the ceiling. Blue, green – sometimes with traced wind currents, sometimes with melting ice surfaces in focus. It is not without reason that the "Fridays for Future" movement chose the gasometer in Oberhausen. Where the exhibition "The Fragile Paradise" is currently on view, the climate movement outlines what its demands and plans are for this year.

Press conference instead of a big demo

Corona forced the movement to rethink. Big demonstrations and strikes every Friday became impossible. In the fight for attention to their concerns, they are now also relying on a classic press conference at the beginning of the year – for the first time in the movement's existence for a good three years – but of course on a Friday.

They quickly make it clear that the new government is not using every opportunity to stop climate change. But now the Greens are also part of the federal government. Many observers of the climate movement would claim that this is in the spirit of "Fridays for Future". Finally, there are individual former activists, such as Jakob Blasel, who stood for the Greens in the federal election campaign – and thus switched to politics.

Greens are not spared from criticism

Nevertheless: Luisa Neubauer, one of the main organizers of the movement in Germany, does not find it difficult to criticize the green parts of the government in an interview with tagesschau.de: "Minister for climate protection Robert Habeck can calculate his wind turbines every day, even if gas is sustainable Energy is declared when new motorways are built again and again."

Habeck had made it clear just over a month ago that the traffic light government would take immediate measures to protect the climate. These include a solar roof requirement for new commercial buildings and the plan to generate 80 percent of electricity from renewable energies by 2030.

However, the measures taken by the federal government are not enough for "Fridays for Future". That's not surprising either: "Fridays for Future" is an interest group – and maximum demands are not untypical for such a group. "It is now the decisive decade in which Germany must radically reduce its emissions," warns Neubauer.

Traffic light should improve

The situation is dramatic. The point is not to compare the new government with the previous government, but to assess what the new coalition is doing in terms of climate policy. And that's just not enough, according to the core message of the climate activists. Scope would not be exploited. The traffic light government could improve that.

In Oberhausen they explicitly criticize the transport policy of the new federal government. "We demand an immediate stop to the nationwide highway expansion," says Linda Kastrup. She belongs to the "Fridays for Future" movement in the Ruhr area. The climate activist is committed to stopping the planned expansion of the Oberhausen motorway junction. "The last forest in this place, the Sterkrader Forest, is to be cleared just so that an existing motorway can be expanded to six to eight lanes." That has to stop.

"Greetings to Mr. Wissing," the speakers say. In doing so, they are directly criticizing the Federal Transport Minister of the FDP, whose climate policy they have repeatedly criticized for the federal elections.

However, in order to move these demands back to the center of the social debate, they lacked attention and demonstration opportunities during the corona pandemic. It was no longer possible to take to the streets every Friday. So it quickly became quiet about the movement.

Through individual large-scale demonstrations organized around the world or around elections, the activists were nevertheless able to shift the focus to their movement and the associated demands for combating climate change. "We have to fight to ensure that the climate issue is taken seriously. That there are honest measures and honest balance sheets," explains Neubauer.

Plans for global climate strike

At the end of March, "Fridays for Future" wants to call for another global climate strike and hopes to get the masses back on the streets on March 25th. In the recent past, this has worked again and again, for example at the end of September with a campaign before the federal elections. It remains a challenge to organize people in the local groups, but it works quite well, according to the activists.

They will soon show whether this is really the case. After all, they don't want to get tired of emphasizing that the fight against climate change is one that requires staying power. And they want it, that's the impression.

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