Climate strike through the night


In Cologne, the young activists of the “Fridays for Future demonstrate” five days at a stretch for more climate protection measures. For the first time, even at night. DW-reporter Mara Bierbach started to dawn your track search.

It became dark on the alter Markt in Cologne. Outside it’s raining, inside the tent it is hot and dry; the Band plays good-humored Reggae with German lyrics – “Come on, let’s go on a journey, a journey to happiness”, in the middle of the tent, a small, colorful disco ball spinning. There is a hint of sweat, cheese and feet in the air. Showers there are not Dixie here – only two toilets.

The Vibe is a bit of a music Festival, a bit of summer Camp, and also a small bit of Revolution. The paving stones that are available in numerous bags close to the tent, but are thought not to Throw – up Storms in the tents. It is 22 PM and the day of the protest camp of Fridays for the Future is coming to an end.

“Better hours, with Fridays for the Future, instead of miles with Ryanair” is one of the many posters in the Camp

There was a day here in the Camp, between the town hall, the fountain and the numerous Bars, Cafes and souvenir shops, several Workshops, political Poetry Slams (quote: “The economy is actually there to serve the people and not the growth”), and from donated ingredients to large gas cookers cooked vegan food.

On the cobblestones (un)comfortably make

The same will sleep in the two big tents, about 50 teenagers and young adults, most of them are pupils, students and trainees. Wasp – brunette Dreadlocks, Jeans, and red baggy hoodies is one of the youngest. She’s only 13, but acts like many of the young participants here are much older – more Mature and thoughtful than one would expect from a freshly baked Teenager. A 30-year-old “full-time activist” (so he describes himself) who else lives in the hambach forest, the Camp Senior.

What is the goal of these people who have made it in camping mats and sleeping bags on the cobblestones of the old town of Cologne (un)comfortable? You want the policy in your city, in Germany, in the world, forcing it to stop global warming. For that world’s young people since the end of last year, Friday on the road instead of in the school or University. Your model: The 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thumberg, who went in August, 2018 in the “school strike for the climate.”

In the Protest Camp there are “rescued” food from stores that would otherwise have been thrown away. In the “Küfa” (=kitchen for all) will be cooked for all the participants is vegan.

In Germany, long an influential environmental movement, but also a strong industry lobby – has taken the Fridays-for-Future-motion foot. Nationwide it, so organizers say there are over 500 local chapters.

“If free days are not enough, then we go on strike the whole week”

Their claims are ambitious. You want Germany to fold by 2030 from coal, and in 2035 only renewable energy uses. By the end of this year, the coal power should be reduced to a quarter and a greenhouse gas tax of 180 euros per ton of CO2.

Jana bolter village is part of the media team at the Fridays-for-Future-Camp in Cologne

With your action you want to “turn the escalation of a peaceful way higher,” says Jana Boltersdorf, a spokesman of the interior of Fridays for Future in Cologne. “We found the idea well: If free days are not enough, then we go on strike all week.” In addition, the Camp is “an open space for networking, where we know each other and spend time together can learn,” said the 17-Year-old.

In Cologne, the climate emergency

A small success, could celebrate the activists in this week already: The Cologne city Council has declared on Tuesday the climate-state of emergency – as the first German city of millions. The Rhine metropolis is following the model of Paris and London, where the “emergency” applies. Future decisions are now to be on the climate-friendliness. However, there are no binding requirements. Therefore, the decision of the city Council of the activists is seen to be critical – he’s not far enough.

The “hard core” of the Fridays for Future group in Cologne, Germany, 20 to 30 people, belong to spokeswoman Leonie Bremer, 22 estimates. Once a week they meet for a plenary session, there are numerous work groups, such as for press work, Social Media, and the organization of the camp. Fridays for the Future, sees itself as a democratic basis – that is to say: there should be no steep hierarchies, all Stakeholders should be involved in decisions. In contact mainly digital, mostly about the Messenger Apps, Telegram and WhatsApp.

Between the hours of midnight and 6 o’clock in the morning in Camp with a night guard to ensure, for example, that the tents will not be stolen

“I haven’t slept the last few nights at all”

Some critics see the end of the strike students as truants. “I’m always stunned when I hear the” rumbles Leonie Bremer. “It is not one of them, only to go on Fridays to the streets and to strike. There is so much more.” Many of the activists, she says, sacrificed-often their whole spare time for Fridays for the Future, and adds: “I haven’t slept the last few nights at all – maybe an hour or two.”

Fridays-For-Future-spokeswoman Leonie Bremer studied environmental and energy science

Luca, 17, says they’ve learned at Fridays for the Future more than in the last two years of high school: “There are always Workshops, there are projects, there are lectures on all sorts of topics – sustainability, climate protection, food, politics. And just the fact that you participate here, you learn an incredible amount – in terms of independence, organization, consultation with other people. One learns, for his mind to stand up and to be able to on the opinions of others to reflect.” Nevertheless, you will not stay overnight. You have to leave early in the morning, to the school – the school management is strict, tolerating no missing hours, she says. So you spend only the afternoon and evening in Camp.

It is about midnight when you are on the way to the train. Many of the activists there had already gone to sleep. The sky is clear, the Bars are group empty, the tourists are gone, here and there, a few activists talk yet. The old market gently humming the bass of the trance music that anyone can hear on the edge of the camp.