“The impact of climate change is one of the top five causes of death for children under 5 worldwide.” – UNICEF, 2015
It was probably the biggest climate strike in human history: On 20 September, millions of people worldwide demonstrated for more climate protection. All across Germany, demonstrators in more than 600 cities joined the climate movement. Once again, EnviroSustain also took to the streets in response to the call for climate action, supporting the Fridays For Future student movement. Under the motto #AlleFürsKlima, we and many other companies called for an appropriate climate policy.
Based on Greta Thunberg’s movement, Entrepreneurs For Future called on companies to close their offices on Friday and participate in the third global climate strike. More than 3,600 companies had already signed the demands of the entrepreneurs’ initiative; including an ambitious climate protection law, and for effective CO2 pricing. 1,500 of these companies took part in the climate strike nationwide, in Berlin alone, they included more than 1,200 entrepreneurs. One hour before the official start, they rallied as the “business people on climate strike” in front of the Federal Ministry of Finance in Berlin. Clara Bütow of the Berlin company SoulBottles, and co-coordinator of the Entrepreneurs For Future demo block, made a clear demand at the rally for “quick and system-changing political measures”, which received huge cheers and applause from the crowds, we joined in waving our painted and inscribed protest placards with enthusiasm.
Shortly afterwards, the Entrepreneurs For Future moved towards the Brandenburg Gate, and met up with many other protesters for the start of the Berlin climate strike, at noon. The range of participating groups showed how the climate strike movement has grown: in addition to the many demonstrating students, supporters of the Parents For Future, Scientists For Future, Artists For Future, Gardeners For Future, Grandmothers For Future and even Dogs For Future were also represented. Several representatives took to the stage in front of the Brandenburg Gate and addressed the protesting masses with demands for a fundamental change of course in climate policy as well as in social and economic policy, before starting their protest march through Berlin-Mitte.
At the same time, reports came through about the climate package published by the Climate Cabinet. Angela Merkel defended the package: Germany would miss its climate targets for 2020, but the targets should be reached for 2030. However, even during the climate strike, the protesters’ indignation and anger were already evident (#NotMyKlimaPaket). Many experts believe that the climate package, one of the largest measure packages negotiated by the German government, is insufficient. Ottmar Edenhofer, climate economist and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, called it a “document of political despondency”. According to Edenhofer, the German climate targets for 2030 cannot be achieved with this package’s resolutions. He estimates the biggest problem with the package is the CO2 entry price of 10 euros per ton, fixed from 2021. In its calculations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated climate damage at 170 euros per tonne CO2. We thus wonder how we could even speak of a “paradigm shift“ with such a CO2 pricing.
The worldwide climate strike was followed on Monday by the UN Climate Action Summit, a special climate summit of the United Nations. UN Secretary-General António Guterres had convened this summit to give country representatives the opportunity to revise their national climate targets before the Paris Climate Agreement came into force next year. The final outcome of the special summit is mixed. The 60 countries of the newly founded ”Climate Ambition Alliance“ want to set higher climate targets next year. Together with nine other countries, China and India also want to increase their targets. Germany also declared its official accession to the coal exit alliance. On the economic side, 87 companies committed themselves to CO2 reduction targets that meet the 1.5-degree target. Nevertheless, the UN analysis of the climate targets is disillusioning: none of the national climate targets, neither the so-called “Nationally Determined Contributions” (NDCs) nor the commitments to climate neutrality by 2050, were sufficient to achieve the goal of the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius.
Even before the new plans were presented, Greta Thunberg made an urgent speech to the international community. In this speech, the initiator of the Fridays For Future movement complained that despite the threat of mass extinction, it was still about “money and the fairy-tale of economic growth“. Later, together with 15 other children and young people, she filed a complaint about the climate crisis with the United Nations Children’s Rights Committee.
Here at EnviroSustain, we are pleased that Greta Thunberg was one of four visionaries to receive the alternative Nobel Prize “Right Livelihood Award” last week. Announcing the winners in Stockholm, Ole von Uexküll, Director of the Right Livelihood Foundation, stressed that Thunberg was honoured for her uncompromising way of telling the world leaders the truth. She has managed not only to make the climate crisis a headline, but also to anchor it in people’s minds.
In the spirit of this global climate autumn, we hope for many more positive impulses from the global climate movement, but mostly for far-reaching changes in climate policy. The children and teenagers of the Fridays For Future movement held up the realism mirror to us. They themselves have taken responsibility for change and have become political. It is time for all those who already consider themselves adults to do the same.