Transformation Quarterly

By Dario Schramm

Gluing themselves to roads, blocking air­ports and flinging food at valuable artworks – the “Last Generation” activists are dominating the head­lines right now. Their followers are polarising and demanding that we all take a stance on their protests. They haven’t been success­ful in their mission as far as I can see. They are not making us up our efforts to address climate change. What we are doing more at the moment is talking about punish­ment, comparing them to the Red Army Faction and discussing the legitimacy of civil dis­obedience. All too often the impression is given that “Last Generation” or “Extinction Rebellion” represents Gen Z.

However, the fact that Gen Z is not a homogenous group, but much rather thoroughly heterogeneous, can be seen in the results of the Civey survey. When over 50% of Gen Z respondents who are in permanent employ­ment say that they would not have a problem with their employer reducing their carbon targets due to the current energy crisis, this is a part of the reality that is under­represented in public debate.

“Fridays for Future” was correctly presented as representing Gen Z, since this type of protest was seen as absolutely legitimate by most of the cohort. And I would also see myself as very clearly belonging to this group.

Compared to the debate around whether those who participate in gluing protests should be sent to prison, the discussions around the school strikes back then seem almost ridiculous.

But we cannot let our­selves become distracted. Policy-makers and industry remain responsible for protecting the climate. It is the actions of these stake­holders that influence all of today’s global crises. This position unites “Fridays for Future” and “Last Generation”. It’s understandable that the protesters have the impression that policy-makers are doing too little. But I’m concerned that their approach to protesting is scaring off many of those who remain undecided.

Dario Schramm was “Bundes­schüler­sprecher” (the elected representative of all pupils in Germany) until the end of last year. He now manages public affairs at the learning plat­form simpleclub. Trade