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Climate politics

Parents’ petition reaches quorum

Foto: Christoph Soeder/picture alliance/dpa

Foto: Christoph Soeder/picture alliance/dpa

Fridays for Future climate demonstration at Invalidenpark in Berlin

Margit Hildebrandt, 08.05.19
A binding Climate Action Law for Germany within six months – this is the demand made by the Parents for Future initiative. The group’s petition to the Bundestag has now gathered enough signatures to force a public debate.

The required 50,000 signatures were reached on 6 May, thereby ensuring the success of the Parents for Future petition. As a result, the Bundestag’s Petitions Committee must now discuss the demands in a public meeting. The parents’ group is calling for strict cross-sector climate legislation by the start of the new school year in September, with a view to rapidly and effectively “slashing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing them to as close as possible to zero by 2040.”

The activists proclaim that even though Germany is on course to miss its 2020 climate targets by a wide margin, it must nevertheless comply with the legally binding global Paris Agreement on climate change of 2015. The aim of the petition is to ensure that the Climate Action Law negotiated in the Federal Government’s coalition agreement becomes a reality. Environment minister Svenja Schulze is already working towards this goal, but the legislation called for by the parents’ initiative is stricter than that envisaged under current plans. They recently endorsed demands from the “Fridays for Future” children’s movement, which campaigns for a reduction of Germany’s carbon emissions to zero by 2035. Nevertheless, the deadline specified in the petition remains 2040.

Celebrity support

For a long time, it seemed unlikely that the required threshold of 50,000 signatures would be reached within a month, but the tide has turned in recent weeks – not least thanks to support from celebrity figures. The renowned cartoonist Ralph Ruthe, numerous environmental organisations, and musicians including Udo Lindenberg and Jan Delay recently came out in support of the initiative. Additional signature lists are currently being checked. Sabine Ponath, who submitted the petition on behalf of the parents’ group, estimates that the final number of signatures will be well in excess of 70,000.

The petition (to be found here, in German) will now be formally verified, after which the demands must be publicly discussed in the Bundestag, although a hearing by September – i.e., before the parliamentary summer break – appears highly unlikely. “This is not set in stone, however. I am making every effort to arrange an earlier date,” said Ponath.

Parents for Future reports that over 4,500 parents are actively involved in the initiative, which was launched in early 2019 to support the schoolchildren striking for more effective climate action every Friday.

 

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