It's a premiere and it's taking longer than planned. As the first federal minister since the start of the massive blockade in Berlin, Volker Wissing met three representatives of the climate group Last Generation on Tuesday. The interview was supposed to last an hour, but it ended up being two. After that, the activist Lea Bonasera speaks of a humanely respectful conversation. But that doesn't change the course of the last generation: the protests should continue. The differences in content remain the same.
At the beginning of March, representatives of the group sprayed the ministry building with water from a fire truck and gave Wissing "a cold shower". And motorists in Berlin also needed strong nerves on Tuesday. The Last Generation again blocked roads in many places. The police spoke of significant disabilities and many traffic jams, for example on the A100 city highway.
The climate group has stepped up its protest in the capital since April 19. She calls for a "real traffic turnaround," as Bonasera confirmed after the conversation with Wissing. Specifically, the last generation wants a general speed limit of 100 kilometers per hour on motorways and a 9-euro ticket for local and regional transport - and a "social council" with 160 elected members who want to end the use of fossil fuels such as oil, coal or gas in Germany Germany should plan concretely by 2030.
Demands that Wissing rejects. The FDP politician does not comment after the conversation. A spokesman for the Ministry of Transport said it was "an objective exchange of positions and arguments". Being in dialogue is part of the essence of democracy. "In order to achieve our climate goals, we need a social consensus and not division. This consensus must be worked out democratically and must not be enforced with violence."
Before the meeting, Wissing reiterated his criticism of the road blockades: he has zero tolerance and understanding for criminal offenses. "This is not a means of expressing an opinion. It must be pursued with the full force of the law." In a democracy, however, he thinks it is important to exchange arguments.
The arguments of the last generation did not convince him, says Wissing. It's a bit strange when you're the minister who proposed the Germany ticket and the 9-euro ticket - and then there are street protests asking you to do something for local public transport, Wissing said. "I find it very exhausting when you see in public that citizens are being blocked by a group that is demanding fewer climate protection measures than the federal government is implementing. That needs more than an explanation."
The last generation tries to further explain its course. The activist Bonasera says they want to talk to Wissing again in mid-May. She compares the group's protest to a trade union strike to enforce a collective agreement. The current climate protection is not enough, further measures are urgently needed.
In fact, traffic is one of the big "problem children" when it comes to climate protection. In the past year, legal requirements for CO2 savings were missed. Emissions increased slightly compared to the previous year to 148 million tons of CO2 - instead of decreasing. After the corona restrictions were largely lifted, car traffic increased again slightly, according to the Federal Environment Agency. The growth in new registrations of electric cars is not enough to offset the increase in emissions.
The Ministry of Transport, in turn, refers to the Deutschlandticket or measures to get more electric cars on the road. The fact that the heads of the traffic light coalition have agreed to reform the climate protection law has caused a lot of criticism from environmental groups. So far, individual ministers have had to start an immediate climate protection program if they are responsible for missing climate targets - Wissing should actually present such a program by mid-July.
In the future, however, the federal government should only make adjustments overall, albeit "on the basis of the proposals" of the ministries mainly responsible - if it becomes apparent in two consecutive years that the climate target for 2030 will not be achieved. The big question now is whether the reform of the climate protection law will come into force before mid-July.
The substantive gap to the last generation could be even bigger. The group is hoping for talks with other representatives of the federal government – they see Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) in particular on the train: "Mr. Scholz, who took office as climate chancellor, is the one who could now take a clear position."