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IN PHOTOS: Fridays for Future returns to Germany with more than 400 demos

Thousands of demonstrators marched throughout Germany in the first series of climate protests since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Here are some highlights from Friday

IN PHOTOS: Fridays for Future returns to Germany with more than 400 demos
Protesters took refuge from the rain under a 'Fridays for Future' umbrella in Frankfurt. Photo: DPA

The Fridays for Future movement, spawned by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg, used to occur every Friday around Germany, with protesters taking to the streets of hundreds of German cities of all sizes.

Then came the coronavirus crisis, putting the popular protest movement on hold – at least in person.

READ ALSO: Over 200 'Fridays for Future' climate demos taking place in Germany

But protesters returned on Friday September 25th amid the rainy weather. This time they showed up stronger than ever with more than 400 cities participating, all under the motto #KeinGradWeiter, or Not a Degree More.

They called for an array of changes to better protect the environment, from a quicker end to coal production in Germany, to stronger laws regulating emissions, to simply less consumption.

Here's a look at some of the top photos. All photos are from DPA unless otherwise noted.

Protesters in Berlin returned to one of their favourite spots, in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate. A total of 10,000 people registered for the demo in the capital, as well as another 4,000 at two bike demos.

Yet Fridays for Future estimates that a total of 21,000 people marched in support of the climate, and greater environmental protections.

In Aachen in North Rhine-Westphalia, a total of 4,000 people turned up.

In Bonn, near Cologne, a very socially-distanced demo took place.

Thousands also showed their support in Hamburg with signs such as “Bye mass consumption” and “Hello environmental protestion.”

Demonstrators in Brandenburg's capital of Potsdam lined up to hold signs reading: “There is no Planet B”.

Protesters, including many students, showed up in Dresden, Saxony's capital.

A demo participant in Frankfurt had a very clear message.

In Magdeburg, Saxony-Anhalt's capital, a protester bore a backpack with the protest's motto.

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ENVIRONMENT

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction

Campaigners began a legal challenge against five German regions on Monday to force them to take stronger action on climate change, emboldened by a landmark recent court ruling in favour of environmental protection.

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction
Demonstrators from the Fridays for Future movement protest in Gießen, Hesse, with a sign saying "No wishy-washy, no climate lashing". Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

The plaintiffs are basing their case on a sensational verdict by Germany’s constitutional court in April which found that Germany’s plans to curb CO2 emissions were insufficient to meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement and placed an unfair burden on future generations.

In a major win for activists, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government then brought forward its date for carbon neutrality by five years to 2045, and raised its 2030 target for greenhouse gas reductions.

READ ALSO: 

On Monday, 16 children and young adults began proceedings against the regions of Hesse, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saarland, with support of environmental NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH).

They are charging that none of the states targeted by the legal action have passed sufficiently strong climate legislation at the local level, according to DUH.

“The federal government can’t succeed on its own,” lead lawyer Remo Klinger said in a press conference, highlighting state competence in the area of transport.

DUH worked closely together with the youth climate movement Fridays For Future to find activists willing to front the challenges, the group said.

Seventeen-year-old plaintiff Alena Hochstadt said the western state of Hesse, known for its Frankfurt banking hub, had always been her home but she feared having “no future here”.

Concern about the risk of “floods, storms and droughts” led her and other campaigners to seek “a legal basis for binding climate protection”.

READ ALSO: Climate change made German floods ‘more likely and more intense’

Hesse’s ministers for climate and the economy said they were “surprised” by the announcement.

“DUH clearly has not yet understood that we in Hesse are well ahead,” Priska Hinz and Tarek Al-Wazir said in a joint statement, drawing attention to an energy future law from 2012, before the Paris climate agreement.

In July, DUH-supported activists took the states of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg to court on similar grounds.

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