"We have proof: Politics can act"

Climate protests in times of Corona: We have talked to activists of the FridaysForFuture movement from the neighboring countries Poland-Czech Republic-Germany about how their protests have changed and what they are planning.
Part 2 with Josi, student from Dresden, 17 years old

Fridays for Future Demonstration in Dresden

What is your name and where are you from?

Josi aus Dresden ist aktiv bei Fridays For Future

My Name is Josi and I’m living in Dresden.

Please describe your activism. What is your role in your movement?

Together with some other people from the local FridaysforFuturegroup in Dresden we plan political events besides the demonstrations - workshops, for instance about the topics of climate protection, environment, sustainability and politics. Moreover, I am responsible for functional communication and social relations in the local group.

How do you organize your work in FFF Germany?

There are local groups all over the country. They get established by the self-initiative of people in their cities. They are responsible for events and demonstrations in their city. Each local group has several delegates, who are responsible for the communication between the local groups. Between the countries it works the same way.

How has corona limited/changed your involvement?

First of all, demonstrations were/are no longer possible without hesitations. Now this is slowly restarting. Many planned events have been cancelled. So, we had to get creative. But there also was a lot of time and space for planning new things, e.g. our social media challenge in cooperation with an initiative by Sukuma e.V. has been running this week. It's called "every day a little bit more sustainable" and is supposed to inspire everyone personally to integrate more sustainability in everyday life – without forced social contacts.

Front des Fridays for Future-Klimastreikes am 27. September 2019 in Erfurt, Fronttransparent mit aufgemalten Motiv "Wir sind jung & brauchen die Welt"

Climate Crisis and Corona

If asked 2019 which issue would be dominating the following five years, the answer probably would have been: climate crisis. In Germany alone, more than 1.4 million people took to the streets under the motto "fridays for future" (FFF) for more climate protection on September 20th, 2019. 2019 was the year of waking up. 2020 was supposed to be the year of action. In January, the wildfires in Australia were the most pressing issue of the year. The world seemed to be ready for an ecological change.

Some weeks later, however, there was only one topic left, the corona crisis. Media as well as governments and personal conversations all involved the pandemic and its social consequences. Still, the pressing question of climate justice has not vanished.

What happened to the issue of climate justice? How has FridaysforFuture continued during physical distancing? And, does the year 2020 still carry the potential of becoming the year of action? We have asked three FFF activist from three different countries because neither climate nor corona stop at borders. Of this we here from:

You told us that you are responsible for a functioning cooperation in the local group. How has Corona affected your cooperation?

There definitely were changes, especially because misunderstandings arose so much faster. Besides, our plenary sessions have moved to conference calls which can be more exhausting in the long run. And of course, there was a lack of social interaction. I think it was well balanced between positive and negative effects. For example, there was more sleep and free time.

You have already talked about some new formats (social media). What about content? Do you see it coming that corona will lead to a new content orientation of FFF?

As for our contents, I don't think much will change. Now there is even more reason to act. Corona has shown how quickly politicians are able to act if they want to. It also showed how quickly the earth is ready to recover if we give it the opportunity to do so. So no, the content will not change.

As a cautious prognosis: Is corona rather a setback or a chance for the climate justice movement?

That remains to be seen, but I personally think it is more of an opportunity. Of course, many people are initially very taken with Corona and probably very happy when this crisis is over. But I think there is, as I said before, a lot of room to demand consistent action from politicians, just as they did in the Corona crisis, they can also do it in the climate crisis if they want to. We now have proof that it is possible.

One last, more personal, question: What are you looking forward to most in your political work in 2020?

A lot: Definitely having demonstrations again (soon we'll be cycling in the city), the Umundu Festival if it takes place, and basically being able to talk to people about the topic of climate again. We have also prepared many practical projects, and I am looking forward to their implementation!

Interview and translation: Maximilian Marraffa, Weiterdenken