Greta Thunberg joins climate rally in Germany ahead of election

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg stands in front of the Reichstag building that houses the German Bundestag (lower house of parliament) as she speaks to demonstrators taking part in a Fridays for Future global climate strike in Berlin on September 24, 2021, two days ahead of the German federal election.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Thousands of environmental activists staged a rally outside Germany's parliament two days before the country holds a national election to demand that politicians take stronger action to curb climate change.

The protest outside the Reichstag in Berlin on September 24 was part of a string of rallies around the world amid dire warnings the planet faces dangerous temperature rises unless greenhouse gas emissions are cut sharply in the coming years.

Students march as part of the Fridays for Future climate movement's initiatives, in Milan, Italy, on Sept. 24, 2021.

Students march as part of the Fridays for Future climate movement's initiatives, in Milan, Italy, on Sept. 24, 2021.   | Photo Credit: AP


The idea for a global "climate strike" was inspired by teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg's solo protest in Stockholm three years ago. It snowballed into a mass movement until the coronavirus pandemic put a stop to large gatherings. Activists have only recently started staging smaller gatherings.

Ms. Thunberg, 18, addressed the Berlin rally from a stage, telling the crowd that voting is important but must be coupled with protests that put politicians under constant pressure.

“We can still turn this around,” she said to cheers. “We demand change, and we are the change.”

Ms. Thunberg and prominent German climate activist Luisa Neubauer accused politicians of falling short, saying the programmes of the main parties weren't far-reaching enough to limit global warming to 1.5­°C (2.7°F) — the more ambitious limit in the 2015 Paris climate accord.

German activists have referred to the September 26 election as the “vote of the century," arguing that the decision taken by the next government will influence the country's efforts to tackle climate change for decades to come. The issue has been a major topic during the election campaign.

The September 24 rally was a multi-generational event, drawing school-age participants as well as adults. Rene Bohrenfeldt, an IT expert taking part in the Berlin rally, said he hoped older Germans would consider the issue when casting their votes on Sunday.

“The majority of voters are older than 50 and determine the outcome of the election,” Bohrenfeldt, 36, said. “I appeal to all grandmothers to make the right decision for the climate and for their grandchildren.”

Christiane Koetter-Lietz, who attended with her children and grandchildren, said she would be voting for Germany's Green party, which has campaigned for tougher measures to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions.

“We have water catastrophes, fire catastrophes, the world is burning. This is the very last warning," said the 69-year-old from the western town of Unna.

Global warming also has been a top election issue in Iceland, where voters heads to the polls for a general election on Saturday. All parties running for seats in the North Atlantic island nation’s parliament acknowledge global warming as a force of change in a sub-Arctic landscape but disagree on how to respond to it.

While many of the protests worldwide were family affairs, activists in Britain blocked the country’s busiest ferry port Friday to highlight the climate crisis and fuel poverty in the U.K.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 12:16:34 PM |

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