Demonstration in Konstanz, Germany.

In Konstanz, Germany, many have become involved in the climate movement Fridays for Future. Photo: Pauline af Ekenstam.


Climate movement awakens sleepy German city

Fridays for Future, the climate movement started by Greta Thunberg, is spreading all over the world. The movement calls on politicians to stage responsible environmental and energy reforms, and in Konstanz the local initiative has aroused an otherwise sleepy city to great commitment.

Between the wine-growing German plains and proud Swiss mountain ranges lies the small border town of Konstanz. Peacefully, for the world-habit almost desolate, the afternoon calm spreads out as if on a lost tourist who ambitiously tries to balance a melting ice cream cone and a digital camera in the same grip.

The inhabitants, half German, half Swiss, show a seemingly satisfied impression of their existence. Few German cities have such low levels of crime and anxiety,
and residents show no greater interest in engaging in polarizing debates on development issues and global political reforms.

The tranquility of Konstanz differs from many other cities of equal size where politicians and residents struggle with much clearer societal problems and challenges. However, there is one issue that seems to be able to wake the drowsy population from their beauty sleep - namely the climate debate.

Since the autumn of 2018, Greta Thunberg's burning words of truth have swept the world and left behind a trail of rapidly growing frustration. Why are the world's companies and leading figures not acting? Or rather, why do the world's most powerful actors continue to act as if the world's resources are infinite? It is part of the issue that for many has become a driving factor in demanding change.

As part of the global environmental movement, 'Fridays for Future' can be found in about twenty of the world's countries. In Germany alone, local initiatives have formed a string of hundreds of frustrated uprisings in the country's local municipalities and county councils.

Fridays for Future was also formed in Konstanz, and the first demonstration was held in February. Jannis Krüßmann, one of the driving forces behind the local group, believes that the organization has received broad public support.

- The region's news agencies and the local newspapers have been very involved in spreading the news and getting people to participate in the demonstrations, he says.

In addition, the mayor of Konstanz - and the parties in the municipal council - have shown a clear willingness to cooperate, says Krüßmann.

The University of Konstanz, as part of the organization 'Scientists for Future', also officially gave its support for Fridays for Future in March.

One of the goals of Fridays for Future is to convince regional and national politicians of the urgency of dealing with the climate threat. By urging politicians to sign a "proclamation of the matter", the organization wants to encourage reforms that can meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. In addition, the organization functions as an instrument that highlights the popular support that the public has devoted to the environmental movement.

In Germany, the milestones are for green development, one hundred percent renewable energy production by 2035, and a completely discontinued coal production by 2030.

The question that awakened Konstanz's dormant inhabitants from their slumber is not an isolated event, but can be traced around the world. It is probably the realization of the drastic changes that the world is facing that is one of the reasons why Fridays for Future can be called a success story.

The frustration behind the spread of the movement can be likened to a crossroads. Either the crossroads leads to people freezing to ice and becoming unable to act. Or the energy is converted into a catalyst for action and agent.

Anna Boeker, one of the participants in the demonstration train in Konstanz, states the fighting spirit:

- We demand that our voices be heard. As part of a global movement, we want to show our politicians that there is only one way out of the situation we have found ourselves in. The only way to a future is to demand change.

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