Climate protest: Activists want to paralyze the capital indefinitely

Hundreds of activists from the Last Generation group want to paralyze Berlin for an indefinite period of time in order to push through their demands for a radical change in the climate.

Climate protest: Activists want to paralyze the capital indefinitely

Hundreds of activists from the Last Generation group want to paralyze Berlin for an indefinite period of time in order to push through their demands for a radical change in the climate. From Wednesday onwards, disruptions and blockades are planned in the government district, and then throughout the capital from Monday, the group said. She advised motorists to switch to public transport to avoid expected traffic jams. The police union and the CDU sharply criticized the group. The Greens are also at a distance.

The last generation was founded in 2021 after a hunger strike and has been blocking traffic again and again since the beginning of 2022. Most of the time, participants get stuck. Drivers often react angrily, in some cases attacking activists or dragging them off the road. Hundreds of lawsuits are pending for coercion and other crimes. According to surveys, a majority rejects the group's forms of protest, and the Fridays for Future climate movement has also criticized it.

Nevertheless, the last generation itself assumes great support. She calls for a social council with 160 elected members who should plan to end the use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal or gas in Germany by 2030. Scientists and politicians are skeptical that this can be done so quickly. For example, it would be necessary to phase out all cars with combustion engines, all gas and oil heating systems and all gas and coal-fired power plants within seven years.

Spokeswoman Carla Hinrichs said on Tuesday about the planned protests in Berlin: "We will bring the city to a peaceful stop". The group usually keeps secret what exactly is planned, where and how, especially since the police take strict action against the illegal actions. 800 activists had registered. Hinrichs confirmed that the protest was planned indefinitely. The government can stop the blockades if it establishes the social council or presents a plan to reach the 1.5 degree target.

What is meant is global warming of no more than 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times. According to scientists, with the climate protection measures currently planned, the earth is heading for a much stronger warming of up to 2.8 degrees - with catastrophic consequences such as more storms, floods, droughts, crop failures and famines.

A spokeswoman for the Berlin police said on request that they were preparing for the blockades, but could not give any details about the operational planning or the expected locations. The police have had trouble getting the blockades under control in recent months. Up to 48 hours of preventive custody are possible in Berlin. In most cases, preliminary investigations are initiated and handed over to the judiciary.

According to the police union (GdP), there have been almost 3,000 investigations and 800 suspects. The police put in around 300,000 hours of work. The GdP accused the demonstrators of "guerrilla actions" and "extremist ideas".

All activists are aware that they could end up in prison, Hinrichs said. She countered criticism with the words: "We are citizens who have come together to resist a government that is currently breaking our constitution." There is no discernible will in federal politics to respond to the demands.

Green party leader Katharina Dröge criticized the actions. In contrast to Fridays for Future, who protested against opencast lignite mining in Lützerath, the last generation did not direct their protests against those who caused the worrying climate crisis. "Protests like the last generation do, where they end up getting on the nerves of normal people in their everyday lives, they hinder them, that doesn't have much to do with cause and effect. People don't understand that either, and that's from me counterproductive in the end." Katja Mast, First Parliamentary Secretary of the SPD parliamentary group, said: "There is a risk that we will lose the high level of acceptance for climate protection measures with such actions. Blackmailing climate protection is the wrong way."

The CDU party chairman Friedrich Merz sharply criticized the planned actions in Berlin. In this country everyone is allowed to protest and demonstrate, that is part of our freedom. "But this part of our freedom ends where pure violence is exercised," he said in Berlin on Tuesday. The climate activists are not activists, but criminals, he explained. He appealed to the Berlin police "to do everything possible to prevent incidents like the ones we saw here some time ago." The chairman of the CSU in the Bundestag, Alexander Dobrindt, also called for stricter laws and harsher penalties. Prison sentences should be handed out more often and "pre-crime detention must also be possible to prevent such an approach from continuing to flourish," he said.

CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja called the last generation on Deutschlandfunk "extremists" who took citizens hostage and wanted to enforce their positions with violence. However, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution sees no evidence of extremism among the last generation. The activists committed crimes that should be punished, said President Thomas Haldenwang at the end of March. However, the basic attitude of the group is to refrain from active violence.