BERLIN — Hundreds of thousands of young people around the world on Friday returned to the streets and demanded action to stop global warming of the planet, many for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic forced them into lockdown.
Protesters gathered in Bangladesh, in Kenya, the Netherlands and in many others countries. But nowhere was the call to action more urgent then in Germany, where it is estimated that several hundred thousand people turned around out in more than 400 cities, die putting pressure on whoever wins national election sunday to set climate protection on the top of their schedule.
Greta Thunberg, the 18-year-old climate activist who started the fridays for Future protests in Stockholm in 2018 by truancy as a way of to shame world tackle climate change, made a guest appearance at a protest in Berlin.
“Yes, we have to vote and you have to vote, but remember voting will not be enough,” she told the crowd, urging them to stay motivated and persevere up the pressure on politicians.
“We can turn this around. People are ready for change,” she said. “We demand the change and we are the change.”
People of all ages marched through the center of Berlin, then a rally on the lawn in front of the Reichstag, where the German parliament meets. Thousands turned out for similar protests in other cities in the country.
Germans will choose new representatives in the parliament on Sunday, and never before has the issue of climate change played such a role in a German election. Despite entry office with ambitions to reduce carbon emissions in 2005, four successive governments under Chancellor Angela Merkel failed considerable reduce Germany’s ecological footprint. It remains in the top 10 of the worldthe most polluting countries, according to the World Bank.
It has been young climate activists, inspired by Mrs Thunberg, who To pass in bringing the climate debate to the fore of German political discussion. This year, she successfully took the government in court, force 2019 law aimed at reducing the country’s CO2 emissions down until almost zero to be reworked by 2050 with more ambitious and detailed goals to reduce emissions until 2030.
Recent polls have shown that next German government could include: left-leaning environmentalists who will bring a lot of hope real change. The Social Democratic Party is in the lead for a few weeks ahead of the conservative Christian Democrats, with the greens firm in third place, awakening the hope that whatever party wins include in the next government.
But some young Germans are concerned that even the environmentally minded Greens may not act policy aggressive enough to speed up Germany’s departure from coal, currently set for 2038. They are also demand that Germany speed up its plan to achieve climate neutrality, when net carbon emissions hit zero, 10 years ahead of schedule, to help boundary global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the lower limit defined in the Paris Agreement.
“The last have shown for a few months how the parties have campaigned unfairly on the climate crisis, without even starting advocate sufficient measures to combat it,” said Maia Stimmimg, a spokeswoman for Fridays for Future Germany.
“If one of the main polluters, Germany must finally stop the destruction,” she said. “Without enormous pressure from us on the streets, no coalition will maintain the 1.5 degree limit after the elections.”
Alexandra Petrikat, an entrepreneur and mother of two young children who attended the demonstration in Berlin, said she was impressed by how the protesters were peaceful and respectful. At the same time, she said their message was loud and… clear.
“I think we have a signal that who the . forms next government can’t close them eyes to our requirements,” said Ms. Petrikat. “We will not give up. We keep growing and we will love up the pressure.”
Christopher F. Schuetze reporting contributed.
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