Defying a ruined future: German students join global climate change strike
By Natalie Carney

On March 15, hundreds of thousands of students in more than 120 countries ditched school in the name of climate change.

The "Global Strike for the Future" demonstrations flooded streets worldwide from Christchurch to Amsterdam with people chanting and raising signs demanding faster action in the fight to save our environment.

In Munich, Germany, thousands braved the wet rainy weather and marched through the city.

Students in Munich join the "Global Strike for the Future" demonstration in a rainy weather. /CGTN Photo

Students in Munich join the "Global Strike for the Future" demonstration in a rainy weather. /CGTN Photo

15-year-old local student, Carman Nova, stressed the seriousness of rising temperatures.

"If the temperature rises over two degrees, the Arctic will melt, the glaciers will melt and there are going to be huge water problems. And if the climate rises, there are going to be droughts all over the world. People are not going to be able to plant food and there are going to be floods. And people will have to move homes. It's the consequence of climate change; they will be climate refugees."

Others are more direct, such as 16-year-old student Rebecca.

"It's ruining our future. If we don't act now, it'll be too late."

Since last fall, students across Germany and many other countries have been ditching school every Friday to take a stand against what they see as slow political action towards climate change.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide continue to rise despite years of global policy efforts to curb CO2.

These "Friday for Future" demonstrations were inspired by a 16-year-old Swedish activist, Greta Thunberg, whose one-woman protests every Friday outside the Swedish parliament gained worldwide support.

CGTN Photo

CGTN Photo

Some teachers have even incorporated the demonstrations into their weekly lesson.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has praised the student's movement, saying "my generation has failed to respond properly to the dramatic challenge of climate change."

German Chancellor Angel Merkel has also supported these movements as has the country's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier who called them an example for other countries.

Yet others in their own party have called this public support "irresponsible."

Some conservative lawmakers have criticized the idea of kids playing hooky from school no matter what the reason and said the students, most below voting age, were "naive" and too young to understand the economics behind climate change.

Frank Gunter, at the Munich demonstration with his two daughters, vehemently disagrees.

"The future world will be theirs," he says, gesturing to his daughters, "and my generation damaged this planet so that's the reason why I am here. I think it is very important that they break the rules (by skipping school), otherwise everyone would say they are demonstrating on Saturday, it doesn't matter. So it's important."

CGTN Photo

CGTN Photo

Elena, a-16-year-old student from Munich, argues that her government is failing to adopt policies ambitious enough to avoid worst climate issues.

"We are told to go to school to study for our future, but our future is not going to be great if we keep destroying our climate like we are doing."

Elena's classmate Carman Nova agrees.

"Why should we go to school, when our politicians are going to do nothing for our future. Why should we learn for a future that we are never going to have?!"

75-year-old Unter Wagner braved the pouring rain in Munich to "fight" for her five children and ten grandchildren.

"Germany tells us it's a good idea to burn a lot of coal. Yes we are lied to, even with the auto industry. We are told all the time that we are protected but in reality they (the Government) are doing nothing."

An elder shows support to the students by carrying a sign written in German language. /CGTN Photo

An elder shows support to the students by carrying a sign written in German language. /CGTN Photo

Germany has endured quite a bit of pressure for their industrial environmental footprint.

The country's governing coalition is expected to introduce a new Climate Action Law this spring, yet many details of the legislation are still being debated.

Germany's coal commission has also recommended to end the use of coal by 2038, yet it is up to lawmakers to decide how that is done.

Friday's "Global Strike for the Future" took place in more than 1,300 cities worldwide, 200 of which were in Germany.