Worldwide climate protection demonstration

2,000 expected for “Fridays for Future” in Bonn

Fridays für Future: Junge Leute protestieren am 18. Januar auf dem Münsterplatz.

Fridays for Future: Young people demonstrating on January 18 at Münsterplatz in Bonn.

Bonn. Showing a sign of global unity, young climate activists will demonstrate for the first time worldwide on Friday, in a united showing of their initiative "Fridays for Future". 1,660 rallies are planned in 105 countries.

For weeks now, school and university students have been taking to the streets on Fridays to show their support for climate protection. But this Friday is different because for the first time, the young people who make up “Fridays for Future” are demonstrating worldwide. 1,660 demonstrations are planned in 105 countries - 200 of them in Germany.

In Cologne and Bonn, local organizers have registered demonstrations with the police, estimating around 2,000 participants. "Because it is an international strike day, I hope that there will be a very large number this time," says 15-year-old Noah Rosenbrock, a member of the Bonn organization team. "It is important that we send a signal worldwide and that young people take to the streets for climate protection".

The young activists planned to gather on Münsterplatz in Bonn at 9 a.m. and march through Friedensplatz and Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz, then returning to the start where a closing rally is planned for around 3 p.m. In Cologne, the demonstration begins at 9 a.m. at the square in front of the central train station, proceeding to the Alter Markt.

Reminder of compulsory school attendance

NRW Prime Minister Armin Laschet (CDU) and Minister of Education Yvonne Gebauer (FDP) have shown little understanding for the protests taking place during school hours and have insisted on compulsory school attendance. Responding to an inquiry from GA on Thursday, both the district government and the ministry stated that "participation in student strikes during school hours must not come at the expense of school attendance and is therefore inadmissible".

An exception would be if a school officially plans a field trip and moves the lessons to an "out-of-school learning location", for example the demonstration. But a violation of compulsory schooling could have repercussions and any unexcused absence is documented on student report cards.

Noah Rosenbrock, who attends high school in Rheinbach, is not afraid. "Sometimes you have to break the rules to achieve something," he says. He replies to critics who criticize that it's all about skipping school, and says that in their spare time they've thought a lot about climate protection and dealt with it intensively. After the final rally, the Bonn team will offer several workshops on the subject - from "Climate Change for Beginners" to microplastics, regional products, air travel and global warming.

"The young generation is right"

At the federal level, there have been different opinions voiced in recent weeks. Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) backed the protests earlier this month and praised the students for their efforts. Environment Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD) told the newspaper "Bild am Sonntag" that she liked "the fact that this supposedly apolitical generation finds its voice and goes out onto the streets". In the same newspaper, FDP leader Christian Lindner spoke in contrast, questioning students knowledge on the subject and saying: "This is for professionals." 

Meanwhile, more than 12,000 scientists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland backed the young climate protectors. "We are the professionals and we say: the young generation is right", said Volker Quaschning from the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin.

Orig. text: Daniela Greulich Translation: Carol Kloeppel