The former Union faction leader Friedrich Merz recently pointed out the concerns of the climate protection opponents in the formulation: "It goes against our liberal way of life, the destruction of the market economy order." So let us not concern ourselves with the design of climate protection and all its technical and confusing details, but we will devote ourselves to the question of whose freedom should have priority.
Many opponents of the Fridays for Future movement feel constrained by their demands and curtailed in their individual freedom. Because these - and also the climate package of the Federal Government - require a fundamental change in the behavior of consumers and companies. As a consequence, there is a threat of reduced mobility because flying and driving would be much more expensive, but driving bans can be imposed. But is such a policy actually a curtailment of our individual freedoms and harms our liberal democracy? Or does not it rather create freedom where the destruction of the environment, climate and biodiversity increasingly limits us?
In the discussion on climate protection, one aspect is often far too short: Effective climate protection does not incur any additional costs on the whole and in the long term, but rather reduces them, and protects what the vast majority of people call a liveable life. Our industrial society has massively driven up economic, social and political costs in recent decades: The fine dust of the internal combustion engine causes many illnesses and premature deaths from respiratory diseases. Hundreds of species of plants and animals are irrevocably eradicated every year by man-made climate change. Natural disasters cost many lives and cause high economic damage. Even the stability of the financial system is increasingly on the brink because many companies can not prepare for this rapid change.
In short, man-made climate change reduces wealth, happiness, life satisfaction, health, which are basic things that are more important to the overwhelming majority of people than their own car.
The power of the factual leaves no other choice
"Free ride for free citizens," is the snappy argument of the opponents and opponents of a speed limit on highways. However, this will apply to fewer and fewer citizens in the future. For the freedom of the individual must be the highest good in a democracy. However, this freedom ends where it curtails the freedom of other people. The British philosopher Isaiah Berlin described this conflict by distinguishing between the two concepts of positive freedom and negative freedom. So if my behavior has an impact on the environment and the climate and thus curtails the health, jobs or economic future of others, then politics and society must resolve this conflict of individual freedoms.
Now many critics of climate protection rightly ask why such fundamental changes should be necessary. Why should we humans abruptly change our behavior over the past decades? If our consumer behavior and ultimately our freedom, be it driving or energy consumption, were tolerated and accepted for decades, why should this be wrong?
Fratzscher's distribution questions - always on Fridays
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The answer lies above all in the scientific knowledge: For some years there has been no serious doubts about the fact that humans are responsible for most of the climate change. It is also undisputed that climate change is already causing high costs today and that these costs are likely to be catastrophic in the future.
Smart climate protection measures thus avoid economic, social and political costs. They protect or create more freedom for citizens by restricting and regulating the behavior of others in relation to nature and the environment.
"When the facts change, I change my mind What are you doing, sir?" British economist John Maynard Keynes asked almost 100 years ago. That is precisely what applies today to scientific evidence on climate and the environment. These facts can no longer ignore politics. In this reality lies the power of the Fridays for Future movement: unlike other movements, it is not about resistance, protest and blockade. But it relies on science and has concrete and usually constructive demands that can not be dismissed as selfish and polarizing. For the protection of the climate and the environment affects everyone and especially future generations, who are not born yet. The power of the factual makes this movement so convincing. And she is concerned with protecting the freedom of future generations.