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Fridays for Future announces German climate goals

Wesley Rahn
April 8, 2019

The student environmental activist group has issued a concrete set of demands to German politicians, including a greenhouse gas tax and net-zero emissions by 2035.

Deutschland Mehr als 10 000 Schüler demonstrieren in Berlin - Greta Thunberg dabei
Image: Reuters/F. Bensch

The German branch of environmental activist group Fridays for Future outlined their climate change policy goals at a press conference held on Monday in Berlin.

The paper,  "Our demands for climate protection,"  seeks to put pressure on politicians to take quicker action to prevent continued global warming.

Read more: Fridays for Future: The #Climatestrike movement comes of age

Fridays for Future sprang up after 16-year-old Swedish high school student Greta Thunberg staged sit-ins in August 2018 in front of the Swedish parliament building every school day for three weeks. 

Thunberg inspired other young people around the world to organize protests every Friday, demanding their governments take action to limit global warming under the 1.5 degree Celsius limit specified in the UN's Paris climate agreement.

Fridays for Future said that its paper was drawn up with input from groups of students from across Germany in coordination with climate scientists. The activists said that student strikes would continue until their demands were met.

Their efforts and energy were praised by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Tuesday:

What are the activists demanding in Germany

Half of the targets set by the group are for the longer term: 

  • By 2035, Germany should have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions
  • By 2030, Germany should cease all coal mining
  • By 2035, all of Germany's energy should come from renewable sources

Meanwhile, the group has also suggested three immediate changes, to be implemented in 2019: 

  • Cutting all government subsidies for fossil-fuel energy sources
  • Shutting one quarter of all German coal power plants
  • A tax on carbon dioxide emissions to make its cost "as high as the cost that greenhouse gases will cause future generations"

Ambitious climate goals

The activists said that their climate goals for Germany would need to be achieved in a "socially acceptable" manner and "in no way put a one-sided burden on lower-income people."

Read more: 'We can make a difference': Voices of school climate strikers from around the world

Activist Linus Steinmetz told reporters on Monday that the movement's goal was to influence the "the highest levels" of politics.

The platform also called for coordinated political action on local and national levels.  Industries including energy production, transport, construction and agriculture would need to make an "enormous effort" to avoid "climate catastrophe."

"We have social and political influence and our movement has reached an unimaginable size," said Steinmetz.

Although the movement welcomes more political recognition, the activists say they do not want to be appropriated for political advantages.

 "We have been praised by many politicians," said activist Sebastian Grieme. "However, that hasn't resulted in any concrete action. That is wrong and false."

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Berlin students demand urgent climate action