World, Europe, Environment

Greta Thunberg leads massive Fridays for Future protests in Berlin

Tens of thousands of people take to streets of Germany ahead of Sunday's elections demanding better climate protection

Oliver Towfigh Nia   | 24.09.2021
Greta Thunberg leads massive Fridays for Future protests in Berlin Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg attends the protest of the "Fridays for Future" against governments' climate policies in Berlin, Germany on September 24, 2021. ( Abdulhamid Hoşbaş - Anadolu Agency )

BERLIN

Only two days before Germany’s general elections, tens of thousands of mostly young people protested across the country on Friday, calling for urgent measures to combat the climate crisis.

In Berlin, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who inspired the global Fridays for Future movement, was in front of the German parliament to lead a march through the government district.

“No political party is doing anything close to enough,” she told the huge crowd, pointing out that none of them have actually presented a concrete plan.

She stressed the need for sustained public pressure, saying that voting alone “will not be enough.”

“We have to be active democratic citizens who take to the streets. Like today,” Thunberg said.

She also urged the movement to be wary of German political parties that may try to use it for electoral gains.

Following her speech, Thunberg had to be escorted out of the area under police protection after three men harassed and insulted the 18-year-old climate activist, according to local media reports.

The mass protests are mainly aimed at pressuring Germany’s political parties to focus on tackling the climate crisis, with the issue emerging as a critical topic in the campaign for this Sunday’s general elections.

In a year of devastating floods, record heat waves, and the Constitutional Court calling the government’s climate policy “insufficient,” many younger voters feel deeply frustrated over the lack of progress on what they perceive as a vital issue.

Reacting to the demonstrations, the German government maintained that it has ramped up efforts to achieve new climate targets.

“There is a new dynamic both in Germany and on a European level. There are many processes in progress that the next government must continue to pursue with conviction and consistency,” Steffen Seibert, a government spokesman, told journalists in Berlin.

He stressed that Chancellor Angela Merkel has repeatedly emphasized the need for people to stand up for climate protection.

The Fridays for Future movement “has of course achieved something,” he added.

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