13 Nov 2020, 15:02
Benjamin Wehrmann

Highway protest camp removal deepens rift between German Greens and climate activists

HR / Der Spiegel

The dispersal of a protest camp against the construction of a highway in the central German state of Hesse by the police is exposing a deepening rift between climate action protesters and the country's Green Party. The clearing of the camp on Thursday 12 November in the Dannenröder Forst that was set up to deter construction of the A49 highway turned violent, with protesters throwing rocks and fireworks and the police using batons and arresting several protesters on the scene, local broadcaster HR reports. The A49's construction had been greenlighted by Hesse's state government coalition of the conservative CDU and the Green Party. The state’s economy minister, Tarek al-Wazir (Greens) said in a parliamentary debate that his hands are tied regarding the highway's construction and that the project no longer could be stopped. Among those removed from the scene was migration and climate activist Carola Rackete. Rackete and Fridays for Future activist Luisa Neubauer published an op-ed for news magazine Der Spiegel on the same day, blaming the Green Party for the escalation in the Dannenröder Forst. "One year before parliamentary elections, the Greens face a litmus test for finding the right balance between political compromise and physical facts," the activists write, claiming that the party "is turning darker" risks sacrificing its "ecologic integrity" to its ambition of becoming a leading centrist party willing to make environmental policy concessions.

Protesters at the end of October had occupied the Green Party's headquarters in Berlin in a bid to halt the highway's construction and accused the Greens of having become a "car party." This is despite the Greens earlier that month saying they would advocate for a moratorium on the construction of new highways and state roads and calling for a "fundamental review" of the country's transport policy.

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