Fridays for future in Chemnitz

Loud shouts wishing for a future, colourful bustle at huge demonstrations and a youth that is politically engaged and organised – for a long time this was not imaginable. But about 16 months ago, Friday took on a whole new meaning. Since then it has become a day of the present for the future. All this is united in the name Fridays for Future.

It all started with a Swedish student who showed in a fast and impressive way how a first step can lead to many more. In the summer of 2018, Greta Thunberg could no longer stand the inaction of political decision-makers on climate policy and began her school strike. After a short time her message had reached young people all over the world and groups were formed in many cities to follow her example. The Fridays for Future movement had found its beginning.

After a short time many elderly people joined the protests and scientists all over the world supported the demands of the young people. But to stop the climate change completely seems no longer possible. Since the middle of the 19th century the global temperature has risen by one degree and the majority of scientists agree that this climate change is man-made

But what does the Fridays for Future movement demand here in Germany? First of all, the German government’s official climate targets, which were agreed upon at the Paris Climate Convention, such as limiting global warming to 1.5 °C. The movement has written a concrete letter of demand for compliance with this goal. Among other things, it states that the coal phase-out should take place as early as 2030, instead of 2035 as decided by the government, and that the 100% switch to renewable energies should take place by 2035. These demands make a lot of sense if we want to continue to live on earth as we know it in the future.

Picture: FFF Chemnitz/Facebook Page

Here in Chemnitz, too, a local group of Fridays for future was formed just over a year ago, and its first demonstration took place on 15 March last year with over 2500 protesters. Anyone who wants to get involved can take part in the plenum that organizes the demonstrations. But not only protests, the local group of Chemnitz also implements actions to rethink. Last year, for example, the young people repeatedly called for joint rubbish collection. Which quantities of scrap were found thereby, is amazing and shows that we damage our environment with our disturbed consumer behaviour also beside the climatic change.

At the beginning of this year the pupils invited to a solidarity flea market. The idea behind it: Every one of us has many things at home that are no longer used, but are still far too good to be disposed of. At this special flea market nothing is bought, only exchanged. With this, the young people want to show that we also have to rethink our consumption. Because capitalism contributes significantly to climate change. “The slogan system change – not climate change brings our main demand quite well to the point”, says Victoria Teuchert, who belongs to the core of the Chemnitz local group. Our excessive consumption, especially in Europe and North America, is increasingly increasing the demand for cheap products that are produced as quickly as possible. On other continents, people are being exploited and greenhouse gas emissions are rising.

Committed young people are also campaigning for alternatives on a regional level and last April they called on the major energy company “One-Energy-in-Saxony” to rethink its concepts with a redline campaign. The group’s colorful Chemnitz forge, whose premises were symbolically surrounded during the campaign, is beautiful to look at, but it also symbolizes the power supply of our region. This is based on the combustion of lignite. This is why the one-energy building in the city center is a regular stop on the routes of the demonstrations.
The young people are convinced that there is also a lot to be done at the local political level. In February of this year, for example, the movement campaigned for a climate emergency to be declared in Chemnitz, as it has already been in many German cities. For the politicians in the city council, this would mean a consistent consideration of climate protection in all decisions. So when it comes to financing companies, it must be ensured that the companies produce and act sustainably and regionally. However, the Chemnitz city council has voted against this. “Actually we were aware that the state of emergency would not be declared, we were surprised that the decision was so close” Victoria describes the views from the local group.

24 city councils have voted to declare a state of emergency. Only five more votes against, but determined the outcome. “For a city that wants to become the Capital of Culture in 2025, this decision is still not justifiable,” Victoria says.

The petition, which led to the vote on the climate emergency for Chemnitz in the first place, was initiated by the “Parents for future”. After all, the older generation also wants to make its contribution and there is now even a “Grandparents for future” group in Chemnitz. According to the young people, the cooperation is going very well, and in the meantime the demonstrations are often organised together. “We are glad that we get this support, because working hand in hand is very important on our way”. And the young people would like to continue to receive this support. They know that they are fighting for everyone and that real change also brings about social change.

The local group also cooperates with other organisations such as “Aufstehen gegen Rassismus” or BUND Jugend, which are committed to nature and environmental protection and plan projects. Because the young committed people appreciate the solidarity between groups that pursue the same goals.

And this solidarity is also in demand at the moment. Even before the measures for protection against the corona virus, “Fridays for future” called for solidarity with the risk groups. Now the organised young people are offering a Corona delivery service. This service is aimed at people who themselves need help with shopping due to the current situation. From 12 noon to 2 pm, the young people can be contacted at an e-mail address or telephone number (to be found on the website: www.lieferservice.kmstream.de) and place their order. Activists from local groups, such as the “Bündnis Chemnitz Nazifrei”, from the “Rojava Solikomitee” and of course from “Fridays for future” have joined forces for this. In addition, the social media pages are to be edited and the Germany-wide “Fridays for future” group has launched an education programme on the website and its YouTube channel, because school education on climate change is still far too little.

Photo: FFF Chemnitz/Facebook Page

Once the virus has been contained, the students want to protest in the streets again. Because the fight is far from over. The number of flights increased again last year, and this year we can probably expect a slump, but this will then be explained by the measures on the coronavirus. The world is almost at a standstill at the moment, nature can recover and actually it would be the perfect moment to start doing what the “Fridays for Future” movement demands: to finally change our way of thinking. The car industry and large delivery services have switched to a crisis business, VW produces parts for respirators and Amazon has switched its shipping to medical products for the most part.

But what happens when this state of emergency is over? Will it remain an exception? Will the economy be boosted again and will the environmental impact be even greater? Or will we start to switch to alternatives? It is important that we realise that this situation is also an opportunity. We must finally become aware of the consequences of our actions. Climate change will not only affect plant and animal life. Already today, over 20 million people are fleeing the effects of climate change. And by 2040, according to Greenpeace, there will be ten times as many. “Wherever poverty is high and the ability to adapt is low, climate change will act as a catalyst, exacerbating water shortages, hunger, destabilization and violent conflicts. Due to rising sea levels and increasing flooding, entire regions and states are threatened with permanent submersion in the water masses,” Greenpeace explains on its website. These forecasts are from 2014, and it is clear that we must all join forces and finally take action.

This is what the young people are protesting in the streets. So that a comprehensive environmental and climate protection is finally realized. Because the effects of the changed climate have been known for a long time. It is not a question of mutual recognition or rejection, but of something happening. And we should all fight for that.

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