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Encircled: Protest of the »Last Generation« in Leipzig

Photo: Bernd März / IMAGO

After an interruption of the road blockades in recent weeks, the climate protection initiative "Last Generation" is now planning targeted actions against the rich: Starting next week, they want to "go to the symbols of modern wealth" and "draw attention to the ruthless waste of the rich," according to a "Summer Plan 2023" by the group, the validity of which was confirmed on request. The German government allows "super-rich people to destroy our livelihoods day after day." The climate catastrophe is "primarily made by the rich". Concrete actions are not yet to be named.

From July 15 to August 6, the group wants to take a kind of summer break and interrupt their actions. From 7 August, there will be a campaign, especially in Bavaria, also with a view to the state elections there. In the fall, Berlin will once again be the focus of protests.

The climate activists had repeatedly blocked roads in Berlin and other cities since January 2022, sometimes gluing themselves to each other. They are calling for a more decisive approach by politicians to climate protection than has been the case so far. In May, the Bavarian public prosecutor's office had 15 apartments and business premises of the group searched in seven federal states. The accusation: formation or support of a criminal organization.

After the raid and the blocking of some accounts, the group had collected 450,000 euros in donations "in a very short time" through a supporter initiative, she emphasized in her communication channels. At the same time, she continued to ask for donations and help, and she also offered various training courses. For example, normal demonstrators or participants in the group's actions are not allowed to talk to the press at first, but "must" first attend an "introductory press training" and two "practice sessions".

With the previous blockade strategy, the group met with rejection from large parts of the population, especially among motorists. The new focus could help to regain allies.

Greens launch initiative on private jets

The Greens are also coming forward with a push for more climate protection: In the Bundestag, they are calling for higher costs for flights with private jets. "Private jet flights are co-paid for by the general public – by the infrastructure used and, above all, by the damage to health, climate and the environment," said transport policy spokesman Stefan Gelbhaar of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung", according to a preliminary report. These burdens would have to be minimized and could be compensated for by higher airport charges, for example.

For the remaining flights, private jet users should make an effort to refuel with more sustainable fuel, the MEP said. "They have the financial means to finally initiate initiatives for e-fuel production."

Last year, air traffic control recorded a record number of 94,000 take-offs of private flights in Germany. In the process, about ten million tons of carbon dioxide (CO₂) were released. Almost three-quarters of the flights that took off in Germany were shorter than 500 kilometers. Frequently flown routes were therefore Hamburg-Sylt or Berlin-Munich. For longer flights, by far the most common destination was Mallorca.

EU states against "hobby of the super-rich"

Smaller operators of private jets are exempt from European emissions trading, which is actually mandatory for airlines. According to an analysis commissioned by the environmental organization Greenpeace, Germany is the country with the third most private flights in Europe.

At the European level, Austria, France and the Netherlands are calling for stricter rules for private jets. These emit an excessive amount of climate-damaging carbon dioxide (CO₂) per capita and are therefore rightly criticized, according to a letter from the ministries of environment, transport and infrastructure of the three countries to the EU Commission a few days ago. Austria's Green Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler spoke of a "hobby of the super-rich". The consequences of "luxury travel" are borne by everyone. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol has already announced that it will stop private jets and night flights. The airport operator is thus responding to government requirements for fewer take-offs and landings. Last November, a climate protest against private flights on the tarmac also succeeded there. Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion were involved.

A ban on short private flights is considered by the Green politician Gelbhaar to be legally difficult. The Federal Ministry of Transport emphasized in the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung" that it wants to make Germany a pioneer of CO2-neutral flying. This would eliminate the need to consider a ban.