Thousands of climate protesters target Frankfurt auto show
Deutsche Welle / Der Tagesspiegel
Tens of thousands of protesters descended on the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt on Saturday demanding more ambitious climate action and an overhaul of transport policy, Deutsche Welle reports. Demonstrators called for an end to the combustion engine and a comprehensive overhaul of transport policy that prioritises zero and low-emission modes of transport, such as walking, bicycles, buses and trains. The estimated number of demonstrators ranged between 18,000 and 25,000, with more than 10,000 on bicycles. Protesters accused the car industry of not moving fast enough towards emission-free transport and called for more to be done to stop sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs), which are considered especially harmful to the environment. Demonstrators displayed banners calling for a “Verkehrswende," or "transport transition,” in reference to Germany's planned “Energiewende," or transition to renewable sources of energy.
On Sunday, several hundred demonstrators blocked two entrances to the IAA, barring visitors from accessing the fair, according to a Reuters report carried by Der Taggespiegel, which cited climate activist group Sand im Getriebe (Sand in the Gears). An IAA spokesman confirmed the protesters’ actions but added that it was “all peaceful,” and that the streams of visitors were diverted.
The German car industry has made considerable effort compared to previous years to seek dialogue with demonstrators at the IAA. BMW, Daimler and VW have put their sustainability ambitions at the centre of their presentations, but combustion engine sales will remain a key part of the carmakers' strategy for many years to come.