Blocking the capital’s airport is “another escalation and absolutely unacceptable,” wrote German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) on Twitter. “These actions destroy important social acceptance for the fight against climate change,” says Faeser.
The German climate commissioner and former German Greenpeace boss Jennifer Morgan told the newspapers of the Funke media group that climate protests should not have any negative consequences for other people. “Every commitment to climate protection must remain within the framework of the laws of our democracy,” she demanded.
Greens criticize the action and the airport
The coalition partner, the Greens, took a similar tack: the Berlin state chairwoman, Susanne Mertens, emphasized on the news portal T-online that protests must rule out endangering other people. “However, BER apparently has to revise its security concepts.”
Her party colleague Konstantin von Notz, deputy parliamentary group member in the Bundestag, criticized the action as “counterproductive, presumptuous and potentially dangerous”. In addition, von Notz saw a need to catch up on the safety concept of BER. “It will have to be checked carefully,” he told t-online, “how the activists could manage so easily” to get onto the runway.
FDP: “Climate criminals”
The FDP, the third party in the ruling German coalition, was also unable to gain anything from the action. “Protest actions of this kind are completely illegitimate and can no longer simply be accepted,” said FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai to t-online. The “full hardness of the rule of law” must take effect. Djir-Sarai’s party friend, the Berlin FDP leader Sebastian Czaja, spoke of “climate criminals”.
His brother, CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja, said on t-online: “The rule of law has the necessary tools to defend itself against such crimes. They must now be applied consistently: preventive detention, residence bans, fines.”
Left defends protest
The deputy leader of the Union parties in the Bundestag, Andrea Lindholz (CSU), called for “consistent penalties” for disrupting flight operations. Lindholz saw “another red line” crossed with the impairment of air traffic in BER. According to Lindholz, airports are “not a stage for political action because human lives could very quickly be endangered there”.
AfD party and faction leader Tino Chrupalla called on the Office for the Protection of the Constitution to become active in the case of the “last generation”. Not opinions, but actions should be decisive for its evaluation. “Securing critical infrastructure must have top priority,” said Chrupalla. Linke boss Martin Schirdewan, on the other hand, defended the “last generation”, whose protest “put a finger on the wound of political inaction in the face of the climate catastrophe”.
How the action went
According to the German police, two groups had gained access to the airport premises on Thursday afternoon. Some people glued themselves to the floor. The Last Generation reported that some activists rode bicycles across the site. The action was streamed live on Twitter. Berlin Airport temporarily stopped operations on both runways. According to the first information, five starts had to be canceled because of the action, according to the airport, 750 passengers were affected.
Climate activists paralyzed air traffic
Berlin Airport had to stop flight operations for a few hours due to an action by climate activists. Activists from the Last Generation group streamed the action live on Twitter. There they could be seen cutting through a fence and entering the airport grounds shortly after 4 p.m. They then held banners up to the camera and explained their motives. Activists were also seen gluing themselves to the ground.
After the action, the police took several people into custody. The responsible police headquarters in Brandenburg announced in the evening that the climate activists would be charged with dangerous interference in air traffic, trespassing and property damage. A spokesman for the German police said in the ARD “Tagesthemen” that it was “clearly” about property damage and trespassing. There is also the possibility that “a dangerous intervention in air traffic” has taken place.
Controversial actions in several countries
Shortly before entering the airport premises, the group said they informed the police about their plans via an emergency call. The activists want to protest against the climate damage of flights. The group posted a video on Twitter of three people wearing orange body armor entering the airport through a hole in the fence. One of the three young people pushed a bicycle. Photos showed activists with a banner on the tarmac.
Activists had repeatedly blocked road traffic in Germany in the past few weeks and this week glued themselves to a conductor’s desk in Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie. In several countries, including Austria, they stuck to paintings in museums. Its goal is to draw public attention to the consequences of climate change and to call on politicians to take action.