Germany: Young people on strike in the face of “climate emergency”

“The climate crisis is killing people. We are on hunger strike for an unlimited period ”, proclaims in red letters a banner suspended from one of the tents set up on a green esplanade between the Chancellery and the Reichstag, in Berlin (Germany). In the middle of the camp, six young activists, supervised by a support team, have stopped eating since the end of August. A radical measure to alert on “the climatic catastrophe” in which humanity is struggling, says one of them, Jacob Heinze.

This hunger strike constitutes “the last resort in civil disobedience in the face of the extreme gravity of our situation”, explains the young man of 27 years with the long hair raised on the head, the drawn features, obviously tested by more than two weeks of fasting. “We’re sitting on a ticking time bomb,” says Hannah Lübbert, another 20-year-old activist who is part of the support team.

More radical than Extinction Rebellion or Fridays for future

Aged 18 to 27, high school or college students, these young people from all over Germany believe they belong to “the last generation” which can still act. Then, they emphasize, based on scientific reports, the dramatic consequences of global warming will be irreversible. They want to be more radical than the civil disobedience movement Extinction Rebellion or Fridays for future, some of them have already carried out spectacular actions: they have climbed on buildings housing political parties or chained themselves in the street with d ‘others to block traffic.

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“But we have seen that these different forms of action have not led to the slightest change” at the political level, Judge Hannah Lübbert. Gathered in a circle on the lawn, some of the hunger strikers sport emaciated faces. One of them, exhausted, breaks down in tears as young medical teams take turns every day to control blood pressure and weight. The day after the interview, Jacob Heinze had to be taken to hospital after collapsing, activists said. Others stay in tents where they spend their nights.

Only the green candidate for the chancellery answered them

On the 15th day of their movement, they decided to further radicalize their action by giving up the vitamin-based drinks they had been consuming until now. “I move slowly, I think we notice the consequences and next week is going to be really disgusting and hard”, explains Henning Jeschke who posts videos on Twitter.

With less than two weeks of decisive legislative elections, these young people are calling for “a sincere and open discussion” on the climate with the three main candidates for the chancellery, the conservative Armin Laschet, the social democrat Olaf Scholz and the ecologist Annalena Baerbock. Their political parties have all placed environmental issues among their priorities. And the Greens, now in third position in the polls after having had the wind in their sails in the spring, want to make climate neutrality the priority of the next government.

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So far, only the environmental candidate has contacted them by phone, they say. “But even with the Greens we will not meet the climate objectives we must meet”, according to Hannah Lübbert. They also demand that the next German government set up a committee of citizens representing the entire spectrum of society and responsible for developing environmental protection measures. And they say they are ready to continue their strike to the end.

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