German protesters call for climate action ahead of elections

BERLIN – Hundreds of thousands of young people around the world took to the streets on Friday in the first global climate protest since ...

BERLIN – Hundreds of thousands of young people around the world took to the streets on Friday in the first global climate protest since the coronavirus pandemic forced them into confinement.

Protesters gathered in Bangladesh, Kenya, the Netherlands and many other countries. But nowhere has the call to action been more urgent than in Germany, where an estimated several hundred thousand people have gathered in more than 400 cities, putting pressure on whoever wins the election. national Sunday so that it puts climate protection at the top of its agenda.

Greta Thunberg, the 18 year old girl climate activist who launched the Fridays for Future protests in Stockholm in 2018 skipping school to shame the world for tackling climate change, made an appearance at a protest in Berlin.

“Yes, we have to vote and you have to vote, but remember that voting will not be enough,” she told the crowd, urging them to stay motivated and keep the pressure on politicians.

“We can still turn the tide. People are ready for change, ”she said. “We demand change and we are the change.”

People of all ages marched through central Berlin, then gathered on the lawn in front of the Reichstag, where the German Parliament meets. Thousands of people participated in similar protests in other cities across the country.

The Germans will elect new representatives to Parliament on Sunday, and never before has the issue of climate change played such a role in a German election. Despite taking office with the ambition to cut carbon emissions in 2005, four successive governments led by Chancellor Angela Merkel have failed to significantly reduce Germany’s carbon footprint. It remains in the top 10 of the most polluting countries in the world, according to the World Bank.

These are young climate activists, inspired by Ms Thunberg, who have succeeded in bringing the climate debate to the forefront of the German political debate. This year they successfully took the government to court, forcing a law 2019 aiming to reduce the country’s carbon emissions to near zero by 2050 to be reworked with more ambitious and detailed targets to reduce emissions by 2030.

Recent polls have shown that Germany’s next government may include left-wing environmentalists who are very hopeful of bringing about real change. The Social Democratic Party has been in the lead for several weeks, ahead of the conservative Christian Democrats, with the Greens firmly in third place, giving hope that the winning party will include them in the next government.

But some young Germans fear that even environmentally conscious Greens will not implement a sufficiently aggressive policy to speed up Germany’s exit from coal, currently set for 2038. They also demand that Germany speed up its plan to achieve climate neutrality, when net carbon emissions reach zero, 10 years earlier than expected, to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the lower limit set in the Paris Agreement.

“The past few months have shown how dishonestly parties have campaigned on the climate crisis, without even starting to advocate sufficient measures to combat it,” said Maia Stimmimg, spokesperson for Fridays for Future Germany.

“As one of the main polluters, Germany must finally stop the destruction,” she said. “Without massive pressure from us on the streets, no coalition will maintain the 1.5 degree limit after the election. “

Alexandra Petrikat, an entrepreneur and mother of two young children who attended the protest in Berlin, said she was impressed by the peaceful and respectful nature of the protesters. At the same time, she said their message was loud and clear.

“I think we have sent the signal that whoever forms the next government cannot turn a blind eye to our demands,” said Ms. Petrikat. “We won’t give up. We will continue to grow and we will keep up the pressure.

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reports.

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Newsrust - US Top News: German protesters call for climate action ahead of elections
German protesters call for climate action ahead of elections
Newsrust - US Top News
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