While negotiations in the World Conference Centre Bonn proceeded in their uniquely complex, bizarrely mundane, and frustratingly detached fashion, over the weekend the far more significant responses to the unfolding climate crisis took place on the streets of Aachen and in the Rhineland open pit mines.
On Friday 40,000 predominantly young people descended on Aachen as part of the Fridays For Future / School Strike For Climate.
Though the School Strikes have not (yet) opted to raise specific demands beyond a general call to urgent “climate action”, there is a definite appetite for system change visible on many of their demonstrations. This march was no different in that regard.
Where this march differed from other School Strike mobilizations was the overtly internationalist stance it adopted. The official name of the central strike in Aachen was Climate Justice Without Borders. As World Refugee Day fell last week, this was particularly timely, and reflects a growing recognition that the fight for climate justice is intimately bound with the fight for migrant and refugee rights.
The march ended with a rally with many musical acts and political speeches. A strong climate justice message was delivered not only from an impressive young woman MC, who reminded the crowd of their responsibility as Europeans, whose societies and economies have benefitted from climate-destroying activities, to push their own governments into a just and adequate response. This message was taken further by Tetet Lauron, a member of our Coordinating Committee, who reminded the crowd that the three most important life lessons were all learn in kindergarten.
The wider Fridays For Future / Youth 4 Climate young people’s movement was also introduced to some climate justice concepts as Greta Thunberg released a snippet of her lecture at a conference in Stockholm, where she told the audience that their overconsumption as high-polluting elites was denying many people around the world the chance of fulfilling their right to a dignified life.
Rather than making people feel guilty, a deep understanding of the inequities of our world usually leads people to take action. And so it was that the direct action of Ende Gelaende was introduced.
For the 4th year, thousands of activists aimed to turn the slogan “Keep It In The Ground” into a reality but occupying a major lignite mine. The photos speak louder than words.
Part of the beauty of Ende Gelände is not only that it aims to shut down fossil infrastructure, but the way it attempts to do so. There is far more hope to be found in a dirty open pit mine facing the violence of police brutality, than there is in the comfortable and exclusive World Conference Centre Bonn – to where we now return.