Anyone who is currently following news from the island of Sylt does not really get into the holiday mood. A battle is raging on the Germans' favorite island: "The Last Generation", armed with the color orange, prefers to attack and disfigure prominent landmarks of the wealthy. Because she believes that "the rich" treat the world particularly ruthlessly and leave the largest carbon footprints on it.
Now it is certainly the case that even among the financially particularly well-off representatives there are some who live according to the maxim "After me the deluge" and get into their private jet with a glass of champagne to go somewhere as the mood takes them jets. Others let their high-powered combustion engines howl on the legendary whiskey mile in an environmentally unfriendly way. "I step on the gas, I want fun", you can hear the soundtrack in your head from a bygone era when the music of the "Neue Deutsche Welle" swept carefree across the country.
Frank Behrendt (58) is one of the best-known communications consultants in Germany. The graduate of the German School of Journalism was a top manager in the music industry, in television and in large agencies. His book "Love your life and NOT your job" became an economic bestseller immediately after publication. The German Public Relations Society honored the man, who is always in a good mood, as "PR Head of the Year". Further information: www.franczdeluxe.de Direct dialogue: email@example.com
Understandably, shopkeepers, hoteliers, golf course operators or even the mayor of Sylt currently have no fun at all with those who have declared the climate war on high society at the Red Cliff. If you think about it and take a closer look at the current statistics, you will quickly realize that the fighters should probably head to Beijing and other cities in China for their supposed last stand rather than wreak havoc on a North Sea island. After all, around a third of global carbon dioxide emissions are caused in the Middle Kingdom alone every year.
There's no question that any party rascals who cause us CO2 emissions without rhyme or reason shouldn't be absolved of their responsibility. But doing without them is not the most important lever that can improve the climate situation in the long term. In terms of CO2 emissions per capita, the golfing Dior customer on Sylt, who stays at the fine Hotel Miramar with a sea view and arrives in a private jet, is not the worst of all bad guys. At the top of this statistic are the rulers from Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. The men and women who live there, who spend billions on sporting events in the desert and throw hundreds of millions at aging kickers, cause so many tons of CO2 every year that the Sylt Jet Society is downright poor on the road.
Back to the island: my family and I will soon be traveling to Sylt during the summer holidays, which start in NRW this week. We don't stay in a private jet and we don't stay in a posh hotel either. Since we don't play golf and don't shop in high-end boutiques, we probably won't meet the angry activists. So it's a good thing that our lovely rental cottage will not be spray painted but will retain its original red brick and thatched roof charm.
Our children look forward to playing volleyball with other young people on the wonderful Elbow Beach, my wife and I to lots of good books in the beach chair. The dog is there too and loves to sleep in the sun while the gentle sounds of the crashing waves pierce its prickly ears. In order to travel sustainably, we rent bicycles on site, but we are guaranteed not to be seen on the whiskey mile. In the evenings we will instead dine outside under the open sky in the garden before we start our traditional game evenings with the settlers of Catan and other board game classics.
Traditionally, we talk a lot when we eat. The smartphones then have a break in transmission and reception. Our children love to discuss with us and of course they see what is happening around them. They view the war in Ukraine, climate change, online hatred and many other issues with concern. But they are also confident and don't think much of the "last generation" adhesive activities on our streets. Not even from their color attacks on Sylt.
However, they find it good when young people draw attention to failures in politics, business and society in a strong but peaceful manner. They celebrated Greta Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer often, but not always, think they're great. Our children separate the rubbish, think it's good that we don't fly on vacation like we used to or go on board a cruise ship and dad now drives electric instead of combustion engines. For them, sustainability is nothing negative, but something meaningful.
Our youngest recently gave a presentation at school on how everyone at home can make a contribution to climate protection with very simple means. Sometimes by doing without, sometimes by buying more sustainable products or by repairing devices instead of buying new ones. And: "It doesn't always have to be the latest cell phone if the old one works," she said. I thought that was a remarkable sentence for a teenager who is being pounded into the exact opposite 24/7 by random influencers on Instagram.
Our junior recently became "school chancellor". As part of a project, the young people slipped into the roles of party leaders. They had to create an election program and deliver a flaming speech. The presentations were made in a knockout process, and the other students then secretly voted for those who convinced them the most. Our son had clear messages, fresh ideas and inspired "the people". He doesn't think much of bans and over-regulation. "People have to want to do it together," he explained to me. And all doers: "Anyone who behaves in a particularly environmentally friendly manner pays less tax in my party." I would have chosen the boy too.
Despite the current reports about unpleasant events on Sylt, we are looking forward to the holidays there and, as parents, are happy that the younger generation is coming along enthusiastically. My son said yesterday when we were talking about the recent attacks by activists on the island: "You can't save the world with smears, only with good new ideas. I feel like inventing something later that improves climate protection." When I listen to the boy, he is everything but a representative of a "last generation". He stands for a coming. One that will lead our world into a bright future with innovative ideas and not with color attacks.