Germany: Merkel supports student protests against global warming

Berlin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel welcomed weekly strikes by school students against global warming, on Saturday.

“I believe it is a very good initiative,” Deutsche Welle quoted Merkel as stating in a video. The Chancellor said that she is very supportive of the fact that “students take to the street in the cause of climate protection and fight for it.”

However, she cautioned students against expecting rapid change. “I know that the students want many things to go faster, such as the exit from coal,” Merkel said.

“But as head of government, I must point out that we have to take a lot of things into consideration: We have to reconcile jobs and economic health with the goals of climate protection,” she said, adding that the government has decided that Germany will cease its reliance on coal-fired energy by 2038.

Merkel appealed to the students: “From the point of view of the students, that perhaps seems very long, but (the exit) will be a great challenge, and I appeal to them to understand that, too.”

However, other ministers have not taken a kind view towards the protests by pupils, with Education Minister Anja Karliczek telling a local newspaper that “even commitment that is worthy of support should be a matter for free time and is no justification for truancy.”

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, has inspired students from all around the world to take to the streets on Fridays, leading to the protests being known as “Fridays for Future”.

Earlier this week, Thunberg, who has been protesting outside the Swedish Parliament every Friday since August 2018, joined students in Hamburg for a demonstration.

She has now called for a worldwide strike, called ‘Global Strike for Future’, which is scheduled for March 13.