14 Aug 2023, 13:00
Sören Amelang

Fridays for Future criticise radical tactics of Last Generation climate activists

Watson / Rheinische Post

Germany’s Fridays for Future youth climate movement has renounced the more radical tactics (such as street blockades) used by the Last Generation group. "Political change does not categorically come faster by resorting to more radical measures," Luisa Neubauer, the country’s best-known Fridays  representative of the protest movement that was inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, told news portal Watson. "We have to bear in mind that in a worst case, certain actions can also scare people and policymakers off," Neubauer warned, adding there was a misunderstanding about how political change comes about, and how to accelerate it. She said the key is to act strategically. "It is not always more effective to hit harder," Neubauer said. "It can also be more effective if something comes quietly and unexpectedly from unexpected corners."

Almost five years after Thunberg’s first school strike, environmental policymakers from the three parties that form Germany’s coalition government praised the movement’s achievements. "We need the pressure, the demands, also the criticism from Fridays for Future. These are very important for us and the whole society," Green politician Lisa Badum, chairwoman of the climate and energy committee, told the newspaper Rheinische Post. She credited the movement with strengthening climate protection as an election-critical issue. Olaf in der Beek, climate policy spokesperson of the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) parliamentary group, said the activists had managed to trigger a broad debate in society, which also affected policymaking. "The issue of climate protection has moved much more into focus. That is good and important," in der Beek said. Nina Scheer, climate spokesperson for the Social Democrat’s (SPD) parliamentary group, said that climate policy has "burned itself into the public consciousness more than before, and also embodied within the younger generation in reference to their future."

The Last Generation group's protests have largely focused on actions like blocking road traffic in major cities and other acts of civil disobedience to alert the public to insufficient emissions reduction policies. The group’s actions have drawn criticism particularly from conservative politicians, but also from the Green Party, chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) and many citizens. They argue that this form of protest is causing rejection rather than acceptance of more rigorous climate policies among the wider public.

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