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Germany: 'Last Generation' writes open letter to Olaf Scholz

May 27, 2023

The German Last Generation climate activist group has published an open letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz online. In it, they call for a citizen's assembly to be formed to find ways for Germany to stop using fossil fuels.

Activists of the "Letzte Generation" (Last Generation) block a road to protest for climate councils
The group's tactics of blocking roads are unpopular with many members of the publicImage: Annegret Hilse/REUTERS

In what the group called an open letter to Chancellor Olaf Scholz, published on Twitter on Saturday, the Last Generation group said it would stop its protests if Scholz's government agreed to a citizens' assembly to explore how to end Germany's use of fossil fuels by 2030.

The group says it had enjoyed increased support and donations after a series of police raids earlier this week across seven German states.

What did the 'open letter' say?

"We wish that our protest was not needed," the group said in its message, published in a series of tweets and listing its wishes: "that your government acts in accordance with the constitution; that the new people who are now flocking to Last Generation no longer find it necessary to make sit-in protests."

The group asked for a citizens' assembly, to "develop a determined plan for Germany to end the use of fossil fuels in a socially just manner by 2030." The group should be a "mini-Germany," it said, representing a cross-section of society.

"We will end our protests as soon as the federal government convenes the citizens' assembly," the group said.

Citizens' assemblies have been used with some success to come up with non-partisan proposals on senstive subjects in some cases, perhaps most famously recently in Ireland when a citizen's assembly proposed the effective legalization of abortion, which then passed with an almost two-thirds majority at a referendum in a predominantly Catholic country, surprising many observers. Last Generation has not said much about how it believes one could help with the specific challenge of climate change, though it has often called for such a body's formation in recent weeks.

The group had announced on Friday that it would concentrate on demonstrations rather than street blockades for the time being, indicating it was planning somewhat less disruptive demonstrations for now.

However, its open letter also said that "countless people" had signed up for sit-in training to learn techniques for street-blocking protests.

"More and more people see it as their duty to stand in the way of everyday life, to take part in sit-ins."

Group says support is growing

Police on Wednesday said they had searched 15 properties linked to members of the Last Generation, or "Letzte Generation"  group who were suspected of helping finance a criminal enterprise. It followed weeks of major protests, on an almost daily basis in the capital Berlin in particular, for the most part disrupting traffic by attaching themselves to roads.

The group often uses controversial protest methods in Germany like blocking roads.The group argues its actions are necessary to raise awareness on climate change; critics say they risk annoying ordinary members of the public and raising CO2 emissions by causing backlogs and major police mobilizations on a daily basis.

After the raids, Last Generation said it had received numerous donations and would expand its protests as planned.

The raids have sparked a political debate across Germany's spectrum, with some Christian Democratic Union (CDU) politicians staunchly supporting the legal action, and others opposing the group's "criminal" classification.

The head of the United Nations, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke out in favor of the climate protesters in light of the raids, saying they needed protection "now more than ever."

Edited by: Mark Hallam

Richard Connor Reporting on stories from around the world, with a particular focus on Europe — especially Germany.