Extinction Rebellion blocks the streets of major cities worldwide. But the actions could split the population. And make climate protection really far-reaching.
October 12, 2019, 1:48 pm
Claudia Langer and Clemens Holtmann are the managing directors of the Generations Foundation, representing the interests of future generations. The foundation brings together young and old people, develops generation-friendly solutions and places them on the political agenda.
Nice does not work. The activists of Fridays for Future must learn bitterly. After the initial criticism of truancy fizzles out, the movement is hugged to death by its opponents for several months. It is considered chic to invite the young activists to discussions, followed by a photo session. The message is that you have understood. But the completely inadequate climate package of the federal government shows that nothing at all is understood.
Frustrated and concerned about her future, the movement Extinction Rebellion is now trying to increase pressure - with the blockade of major transport hubs in Berlin and other major cities around the world. The decentralized groups have been very popular in recent weeks and months. Thousands of people braved the wet, cold weather of Berlin this week and decided to carry them away from the police. They see Extinction Rebellion as the logical and courageous continuation of Fridays for Future.
The actions and blockages ofExtinction Rebellion are peaceful. And yet they are a new level of escalation in the fight for the climate. Because not only the climate activists, also their opponents equip. The tone is getting sharper, the fronts are hardening. Until now it is unclear whether Extinction Rebellion will succeed in gaining the support and sympathy of the population. Although many positive comments have been heard in the blockades in the inner city districts of Berlin over the past few days. But the echo on the Internet and in the media is sometimes very critical: The world speaks of "alarmists", ZEIT ONLINE of "democratic infatuation". Author Jutta Ditfurth accused the movement of being a sect in a series of accusatory tweets and criticized the emotionalisation of the climate issue; the thread was split more than two thousand times.
Unlike the Friday-for-Future protests, which were slowly gaining public awareness over weeks and months, this week's Extinction Rebellion has suddenly flooded the minds of many people. Even those who do not live in Berlin saw in the media pictures of people who blocked bridges, streets and squares.
The blockades that are supposed to hinder people's everyday lives immediately provide the climate enemies with new, powerful ammunition. Opponents of Extinction Rebellion do not show the singing, happy people and their messages, but spread images of policemen in black uniform and pointed statements without context.
But blockades, appeals to resistance, and words like "eradicating humanity" can, if taken out of context, lead to irritation and misunderstandings and distract from real danger. Extinction Rebellion primarily communicates in-depth action training, onboarding, and lectures to reach potential activists. Large parts of the population get nothing of this. An arrangement by tireless explanation, which took place at Fridays for Future, for example, by the numerous television appearances by Luisa Neubauer is missing.
Extinction Rebellion's strategy makes it easy for the public to withdraw its sympathies. At the latest, the movement should start to explain itself and enter into dialogue. Because it is not enough to block bridges, you also have to build bridges. The people whose hearts the climate movement has won over the past few months must not be lost again.
A tipping point for the climate movement
There is a possible tipping point in the public mood. For the criticism of Extinction Rebellion, if generalized, could damage the climate movement as a whole. It jeopardizes the social consensus for far-reaching climate protection, which has been shaping up in recent months and is becoming broader. The open door to real climate protection threatens to shut down again, to split society: those who take the Paris climate protection goals seriously, and those for whom it must be good then.
Many of the activists of Extinction Rebellion find the fierce resistance provocative, as a confirmation that they have hit the bull's eye. But for the climate movement, such a split would turn out to be catastrophic. Because of its far-reaching goals, a large majority of the population is willing to restrict itself to a higher goal. How far this way is yet, the discussion about SUV.
Only if the civil society succeeds in not being split and the pressure on the government to increase further, the much-needed rework on the climate package are still possible. But it now needs the votes of a broad, united majority. Moderates and conservatives, celebrities and progressives, are all challenged. It needs their votes for a far-reaching climate change consensus to protect the earth and protect the future of future generations. Now is the moment when all citizens are required to meddle and position themselves on this humanitarian issue. Because the concern of Extinction Rebellion is legitimate and time is pressing.