#83 – Darüber diskutiert Deutschland: Die letzte Generation (Din9)

People sticking to the streets to hold up traffic. This is one of the most important topics in Germany at the moment. I’m talking about the so-called “ Last Generation .” Have you perhaps heard this before? Who or what is that actually? Why are they doing this? And how do drivers react to the actions of the last generation? Yes, and how is the last generation generally perceived in Germany? And what is the government doing about it? I’ll explain that to you in the next nine minutes.

Welcome to German Chatter. I am Flemming, German coach at Natural Fluent German. This podcast is for you if you want to improve your listening comprehension, expand your vocabulary, get to know real everyday German and find out more about Germany. You can find the transcripts to read along at www.naturalfluentgerman.com. By the way, German chatter is also available on YouTube. And now have fun listening. 

Hello, dear German learner, hello, dear German learner. It’s nice that you’re back at Deutsches Geplapper and this new format „Germany in nine minutes“, where I explain to you a certain aspect about Germany and the people here in nine minutes. And you can also take action here by answering the control questions that I will ask you from time to time. Then just take a few minutes, press pause and answer the questions. This allows you to expand your active vocabulary and practice speaking fluently. If you don’t want that, just keep listening. Let’s get started right away with the question „Who is the last generation?“ The last generation is a climate protest movement or climate protest organization that wants to draw attention to the government’s inadequate climate policy in Germany through its actions. The organization was founded in 2021 and has since been active throughout Germany, but also Austria and Switzerland. Yes, and the climate activists want to use civil disobedience to force the government to comply with the 1.5 degree target. 

Now two questions arise: What is this “1.5 degree target” and what does “civil disobedience” mean? Let’s start with the first: 1.5 degree target. This is the limit that the heads of government of the United Nations, i.e. the UN, agreed on at the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. This means that the countries have agreed to reduce CO2 emissions to such an extent that global warming does not rise above 1.5 degrees. Pretty unrealistic from today’s perspective. 

Second question: civil disobedience . In very simple terms, this means that citizens can defend themselves against the laws and norms of the state because the state is not fulfilling its tasks and disregarding its obligations to its citizens. In a democracy, citizens can then rise up against the government by engaging in active resistance, i.e. civil disobedience. 

So, the first check question for you: What does this mean or what does the 1.5 degree target include? And what does civil disobedience mean? Please take a few minutes. If not, just keep listening now. 

We now move on to the goals of the last generation. So the last generation is engaging in civil disobedience to remind governments of the 1.5 degree target. And in the eyes of activists, the government is endangering humanity’s future by not acting decisively enough to stop climate change. Specifically, the goals of the last generation are the following: Phase out coal energy. Transport transition. This means that the last generation wants a speed limit of 100 kmh on the motorways. You know, there is no speed limit in Germany. But the last generation really wants this speed limit because it would save a lot of CO2. And she wants the introduction of the 9 euro ticket for traveling by train. So 9 euros a month for using regional trains. And another very important goal of the last generation is the establishment of a company council. In a letter dated March 6, 2023, the last generation called for the establishment of this social council made up of selected citizens to discuss how Germany could become climate neutral by 2030. The federal government should publicly promise to follow the recommendations of this council. These are all very blatant, but somehow understandable demands when you consider that the government is really doing far too little to combat climate change. Because we have to recognize that time is short. Climate change is damn serious. 

Control question: What are the main demands and goals of the last generation? 

So let’s move on to the actions. What does this action of the last generation look like in practice? What is the last generation doing now to achieve their demands and goals? The most well-known means is sticking to main roads and motorways. The images of activists sticking their hands to the streets have appeared in the media again and again in recent months. The activists use very, very strong glue that is very difficult to remove. If the police are there when they arrive where the activists are stuck, it often takes a very long time for them to get the activists off the road, so that traffic is often at a standstill for half an hour or even much longer. Other actions include unannounced protest marches, also on the streets, or spraying and painting buildings and cultural objects. A few months ago, for example, a painting by Monet in the Berlin, no, in the Potsdam Art Museum was smeared with mashed potatoes. Yes, a very controversial action for sure. In general, however, it must be said that these measures are not directed against citizens or drivers, but rather against the state. The aim is to get public and media attention and in this way force the state to act because, in the eyes of recent generations, it would be easier to adapt and improve climate policy than the costs and problems caused by it Actions are triggered to continue to endure. 

Control question: What exactly do the actions of the last generations look like? Describe that to me.

So, we come to the last point and that is the perception and reactions to the last generation. It has to be said that opinions in German society are very divided. Many reject the last generation. There are a lot of videos on the internet of angry drivers who just keep driving even though there are people sitting on the road in front of them. Others, on the other hand, think the actions are very, very good and support the last generation financially because they recognize the need for protest. More and more people from recent generations are joining. On the other hand, there is also the Deutsche Bild-Zeitung, which often speaks very disparagingly about the “climate gluers” or the “climate disasters”. And many people simply agree with her and are of the opinion that you simply cannot achieve anything this way. And still others say that the peaceful protests of the past, the peaceful demonstrations of the “Fridays for Future” movement for example, have not brought any real change and that therefore tougher protests and measures are necessary. Yes, what is the state doing? He has done very little so far. The government is even examining whether, or has in the past examined, whether the last generation should be classified as a terrorist group. And there were also a lot of house searches and arrests of activists who then had to go to prison for a few months. Now the question is whether sending someone to prison for protesting the destruction of the planet is really justified. But feel free to discuss this a bit more in the YouTube comments.

Control question: How does the German public feel about the last generation and what is the state doing against the activists? 

My opinion on the topic? Well, I think the protests of the last generation are good and necessary. I definitely don’t stand behind every last generation’s action. But I think it’s just incredibly important that something is done. I also understand the anger of drivers and the anger of citizens. But we simply have to understand that climate change is the biggest threat of our time and that we don’t have much time left to act. And we have to act if the government doesn’t take action. This is my personal opinion. But I look forward to your opinion. Feel free to discuss this with me by leaving a comment under this video. 

Yes, and here are all the control questions at the end: What does the “1.5 degree target” mean and what does “civil disobedience” mean? What are the main demands of the last generation of climate activists? What exactly do these actions look like? And how does the German public feel about the last generation? And what is the state doing against the activists? 

As I said, now that you know what the last generation is, I’m interested in your opinion on the subject. Let’s discuss. Feel free to write me your thoughts on the topic in the comments or simply your answers to the control questions in the comments under this video. Otherwise, as always, I ask you to give me a like if you liked this episode. Subscribe to my channel so you won’t miss another episode in the future and tell others about this podcast if you like it. That would help me personally a lot and help me move forward. I’m looking forward to seeing and hearing from each other again next week and I hope you have a great time. Stay healthy and see you soon.

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