As tens of thousands of pupils plan to go on strike worldwide this Friday as part of the Fridays4Future movement, Germany’s wind energy federation BWE has backed a petition signed by more than 12,000 scientists who support the students’ climate protests.
“The broad approval of [the campaign] 'Scientists4Future' from various research areas shows that it is a scientific consensus that the urgent climate protection measures to reach 2030 and 2050 targets must be put in practice as fast as possible,” said BWE vice president Sandra Hook, who signed the petition initiated by researchers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
“The [German] federal government by signing the Paris climate accord has sent an important signal. It has announced an accelerated expansion of renewable energies in its coalition treaty. But nevertheless politics is mostly stagnant. To end that standstill, students now take to the streets.”
Fridays4Future was kicked off by 16-year-old Swedish teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, who started the strikes for the climate alone in Stockholm last August and has since attracted an unprecedented media focus.
Students across the world have imitated Thunberg’s example, at times drawing negative reactions from politicians, who are in turn themselves accused of doing too little too late to stop climate change.
Christian Lindner, the leader of Germany’s liberal Free Democrats (FDP), for example, said it can’t be expected of children and young people to understand global contexts and see what is economically feasible. Education officials in several countries have criticised and threatened action against students who skip school for the protests.
But the protests are rapidly gaining popularity among the wider public, making politicians, who oppose the strikes look like climate dinosaurs.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel earlier this month welcomed the fact that “young people, school students, demonstrate and tell us to do something fast about climate change,” without mentioning that the protests are being held during school hours.
But Merkel did stress that there are many steps to take before fully switching off coal in Germany, which is now tentatively planned only to happen by 2038 – far too late for the protesting students.
The BWE’s Hook said a rapid entry into CO2 pricing could help, as would a determined German expansion of renewable energies that bets on regional supply, smart power-to-x projects and innovative storage concepts.
“Politics should gratefully take up the support of the young generation,” she said.