Climate activists in Germany use super glue and locks to make their point

“It’s absolutely crazy to stick to the road with superglue,” admits Lina Schinkoethe.

And yet the 19-year-old has just ended up in jail for doing just that, in protest at what she believes is the German government’s lack of action on climate change.

Schinkoethe is part of a group called Uprising of the Last Generation that claims the world has only a few years left to turn around and avoid catastrophic levels of global warming.

Like-minded activists in other parts of Europe have disrupted major sporting events such as the Tour de France and the Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone in recent weeks, while others stuck to a picture frame at the Royal Academy of Arts in London on Tuesday. But Schinkoethe’s group has mainly focused on ordinary commuters in cities like Berlin who, on any given day this summer, could find themselves in an hours-long traffic jam caused by a handful of activists sticking to the tarmac.

His actions have sparked outrage and threats from angry motorists. They have been accused by the tabloid media and some politicians of wreaking havoc and harming ordinary people who are just trying to mind their own business. Some have branded them dangerous radicals.

Schinkoethe says the escalation of tactics is justified.

“If we wanted people to like us, we would do something else, but we have tried everything else,” he told The Associated Press. “We have kindly requested it. We have calmly protested.”

She recalls joining the Fridays for Future protests led by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, which saw hundreds of thousands of students around the world skip school and fight for a better world.

“I was really hoping that something would change, that politicians would react and finally take us and the science of climate change seriously,” he said. warmer.”

Such an increase in global temperatures is more than twice the Countries with a limit of 1.5 °C (2.7 °F) agreed in the 2015 Paris climate agreement. Time progress has been made in reducing greenhouse gas emissionsexperts agree that the goal is still far from being achieved.

German climate activists aim to cause friction with #lockdowns. #ClimateCrisis #ClimateAction #GlobalWarming

Scientists agree that the world has no time to lose in reducing emissions, but they have tried to counter ‘doomism’ arguing that the world is headed not toward a single cliff edge so much as toward a long, steep incline with several precipitous drops.

“Every tenth of a degree matters,” said Ricarda Winkelmann, a scientist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research near Berlin.

“If we really start to act now and reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, we are likely to be able to limit some of the most severe climate impacts,” he said.

Such messages are lost in many of those caught in the locks.

At two protests witnessed by The AP in June and July, several truckers got out of their cabs to reprimand the activists. One physically removed two protesters from the road.

Other drivers, some of whom were not affected by the blockade, also insulted the activists. Some expressed support for the climate cause, but questioned the way the protests were carried out.

“They need to find a different way to do this than to block other people,” said a driver on his way to work, who gave his name only as Stefan.

Berlin’s mayor has called the street blockades “crimes” while the city’s top security official is demanding that prosecutors and courts impose swift convictions. So far, no case has gone to trial.

Still, Schinkoethe believes he has no choice but to move on.

“We need to generate friction, peaceful friction, so that there is an honest debate and we can act accordingly,” he said.

That sentiment was echoed by Ernst Hoermann, a retired railway engineer and grandfather of eight who has been regularly traveling to Berlin from Bavaria to take part in the protests.

“Basically we have to tease until it hurts,” he said as a police officer tried to get him off the road with the help of cooking oil.

Similar protests have resulted in prison terms of weeks in Britain, where the government has requested court orders to preemptively stop roadblocks by the Insulate Britain group.

Hoermann, 72, said he is not afraid of fines or the prospect of prison.

“It doesn’t compare to the fear I have for my children,” she said.

Last Generation has recently attempted to focus attention on Germany’s plans to drill for oil and gas in the North Sea.

Despite having the most ambitious climate goal of any major industrialized nation, Germany’s center-left government is striving like other European countries to replace its Russian energy imports and avoid painful fuel shortages for years to come.

Schinkoethe says the number of people taking part in the group’s actions has risen from 30 to 200 in six months and argues that the blockades continue the tradition of civil disobedience seen during the US civil rights movement and the fight for freedom. female suffrage.

“What we are doing is illegal,” he said. “At the same time, it’s legitimate.”

Manuel Ostermann, a high-ranking member of one of Germany’s police unions, accused the group of committing crimes while posing as victims.

“Where the process of radicalization gets under way, extremism is not far away,” he wrote on Twitter.

Members of Last Generation have tried to counter that, quoting UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who earlier this year said that “the really dangerous radicals are the countries that are ramping up fossil fuel production.”

“I will keep going until the government locks me and the other activists up for their peaceful protests, or gives in to our demands,” Schinkoethe said.

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