German students join global demand for action against climate change

World Today

German students join global demand for action against climate change

Students skip classes for something they say is more important: action on climate change. Children, teens, and some parents, turned out in more than 100 countries as part of a series of demonstrations called “Fridays for Future.” German students have been at the forefront of the movement.

CGTN’s Natalie Carney talks with some in Munich.

Cheered on by fellow students, thousands took to the streets of Munich in the pouring rain to fight for their future, arguing that governments are failing to adopt ambitious climate change policies.

“If the temperature rises over two degrees, the Arctic will melt, the glaciers will melt and there are going to be huge water problems,” said student Carman Nova. “If the climate rises, there are going to be droughts all over the world. People are not going to be able to plant food and there are going to be floods. And people will have to move homes. It’s the consequence of climate change; they will be climate refugees.”

“It’s ruining our future,” agreed student Rebecca Lang. “If we don’t act now, it’ll be too late.”

For months, students across Germany have been ditching school every Friday to take a stand against what they see as slow political action toward climate change. Teachers even incorporated the demonstration into the day’s lessons.

Yet not everyone is in support of the students, many of whom are not old enough to vote. Some conservative lawmakers have criticized the idea of kids leaving school no matter what the reason, calling the students “naive.”

“We are told to go to school to study for our future, but our future is not going to be great if we keep destroying our climate like we are doing,” said a teenaged girl named Elena.

Despite the weather, many of these students believe that demonstrating during school hours is the only way they will be heard. And they are getting a lot of support, not only from teachers but parents and even grandparents.

“I have two daughters and the future world will be theirs and my generation damaged this planet so that’s the reason why I am here to take part,” said parent Peter Gunter. “I think it is very important that they break the rules because otherwise everyone would say they are demonstrating on Saturday– that doesn’t matter. So it’s important.”

Unter Wagner, 75, says she’s fighting for her five children and 10 grandchildren.

“Germany tells us it’s a good idea to burn a lot of coal,” said Wagner. “Yes, we are lied to, even with the auto industry. We are told all the time that we are protected but in reality they do nothing.”

Germany’s coal commission has recommended to end the use of coal by 2038, yet it’s up to the country’s lawmakers to decide how that’s done. The governing coalition is also expected to introduce a new Climate Action Law this spring, but many details of the legislation are still being debated.

Friday’s “Global Strike for the Future” took place in more than 1,300 cities worldwide, 200 of which were in Germany.

Students in more than 100 countries strike for climate change

Students are rallying in more than 100 countries, calling for stronger action on climate change. CGTN’s Juliet Mann reports on the action in the U.K.