In front of a café on Friedrichstrasse in Berlin, a man shakes his head and says to a woman: "You can not change the world." In the café sits someone who wants to change the world. She is now writing her name on a masking tape taped to her jacket: "Luisa" and below: "Fridays for Future". "Some people find it funny that I write my name on the jacket," says Luisa Neubauer. But it is important to be recognized. Later, at the strike before the Ministry of Economy. She organized the strike – as did the other five strikes that took place there every Friday over the past few weeks.
Smartphone and Power Bank are on the table in front of Luisa. The 22-year-old does not want a coffee, she drinks water. "There'll be a lot of coffee later, that'll be too much," she laughs. Luisa's day started this morning at five o'clock in Göttingen. From there she came by train to Berlin. Currently the student lives half in Göttingen and half in Berlin. "That I can afford that is a privilege," she says. Her commitment to the climate was made possible by a scholarship from the Heinrich Böll Foundation and a job at the University of Göttingen.
Luisa's phone rings. "Sorry," she says. It's about the strike. The conversation is brief, then Luisa writes a short WhatsApp message. On WhatsApp alone she is in 50 Fridays for Future groups. "Oh, so late, we have to go," she says and packs her things in her backpack. The first appointment takes place a few hundred meters away in the Institute of German Business. Luisa is there to argue with the director Michael Hüther on climate and economic policy. She is not excited, she is good at exercise. Just two days ago she was sitting on the sofa with Dunja Hayali. Sovereign she brought her arguments, she was excited only because she had previously slept too little.
"I wanted to understand the world"
Luisa has been interested in environmental and climate policy for a long time. She had a focal point, as she calls it, in 2013. With an exchange project she was in Tanzania and saw what it does to the country and its people when it stops raining or when it can no longer be relied upon to rain. "I wanted to understand the world," Luisa explains her decision at the time to study geography. Years of working on environmental issues has made her an expert. She also describes her privilege of dealing with "an abstract cause like climate change". In discussions, there are no big differences between politicians and Luisa. Only Luisa gets to the point faster and says crisp sentences, such as: "Climate change is the biggest crisis of humanity".
Luisa is greeted by two men in suits at the Institute of German Business. For the interview she puts aside her hooded jacket. The journalist's first question is that she is being asked more and more frequently: "How long are you going to go on strike?" Luisa answers professionally: "It's still 825 Fridays before the coal exit date of 2035. "I hope that I will not have to strike 825 Fridays." This refers to the exit date agreed by the coal commission. It's one of Luisa's demands: carbon kicking off by 2030. What she fights for goes beyond that. Luisa calls for a climate policy that is compatible with the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. At the Paris Climate Change Conference in December 2015, 195 countries agreed for the first time on a general, legally binding global agreement on climate change. The long-term goal was to limit the rise in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels and increase global warming to 1.5 degrees.
"To achieve this, a new climate protection policy is needed," says Luisa. Not only coal, but many areas: mobility, infrastructure, agriculture. Luisa calls these areas "emission-intensive sectors" in conversation with the director of the economic institute. Instead of a German contribution to climate protection policy, Luisa observes above all a contribution to economic protection. During a conversation with the Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier, she explained to her that he feared that a climate policy would worsen the German economy. Luisa has no sympathy for that. She is aware that climate policy also influences economic policy. Solutions for this should be found in politics for several decades.
Luisa does not see it as her job to explain to politicians their job. They often tell her how to organize the strike. For example, not at school. And they also ask if such a strike – especially during school – is the right path for change. "I do not have to go to the streets to be part of the discourse," says the director of the Institute of German Business now to her. "I do," answers Luisa. "In your position you have direct access to the debates and discourses. We do not have this access, "explains the 22-year-old. The radical nature of the school strike is important to show that something needs to be done now.
"I experience not only the conflict between the demand for climate policy and the demand for economic growth, but another: Young women like me are making conflicts with older men in positions of power," says Luisa. She speaks of a gender component that she feels as a young woman. "It's pretty blatant how patronizing I'm being talked to – and that's getting louder and more direct," she says. When the Director of the Institute of Economics wants to discuss the extent of the effects of climate change, Luisa can not resist the rolling of the eye. After the debate, the strike continues in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In the elevator, Luisa is offered a taxi, she dismisses with thanks and takes the S-Bahn.
"We are here, we are loud, because you are stealing our future!" Calls Luisa half an hour later in Invalidenpark in front of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Around three hundred young people call. They hold banners in the air. "If the climate were a bank, you would have saved it long ago," it says. A child has a cardboard on his back, then the question: "Opi, what is snow?"
Although school holidays are in Berlin, many have gathered here to demonstrate against the current climate policy. Luisa twitters a video with the text "Berlin hops! On holiday! Krass! Do not they just want to play games? "Luisa has a double role here. Sometimes she gives short speeches to the demonstrators, sometimes she stands on the edge and gives interviews. In between she taps messages into her phone, takes Instagram videos and tweets.
What drives me every day is not the people who sit in the Bundestag, but the people who stand in front of it.
An hour later, Luisa is sitting with four other organizers of the Berlin Fridays for Future group in the Willy-Brandt-Haus. You face Kevin Kühnert, the chairman of the Jusos. What is the political consequence of the strike? How can more be achieved politically? They also discuss what collaboration can look like. It does not matter Luisa party limits. It not only meets representatives of the Jusos, but also the Junge Union. "We want to trigger something," argues Luisa.
Luisa does not want to engage in party politics. More important is her to make politics by extra-parliamentary impulses. "The argument 'Go to the parties and do something' just does not work," she says. An offer of talks with the party executive of the SPD accepts them. She just wants to talk to climate change deniers, she says, grinning. "Well, it's not that bad for us," says Kevin Kühnert.
Luisa looks at her phone, she wants to continue. "We have to go," she says. In the evening, the Berlin local group of Fridays for Future meets to plan the further demonstrations and to organize the structure of the movement. Luisa is more important than meetings with politicians to build a social movement: "What drives me every day, are not the people who sit in the Bundestag, but the people who are in front of it."
Where young women get loud and have a clear political position, it sores sore points in many men.
"Shit," says Luisa, looking at her smartphone. On Twitter someone has copied the photos of their Instagram account and provided with spiteful comments. The Tenor: A young woman who undertakes air travel should not profile herself as a climate activist. It is the same hate that confronted Greta Thunberg, who had launched Fridays for Future with her strike in the Swedish parliament. Striking: The hateful are almost exclusively men, most from the right milieu. "Where young women grow up and have a clear political position, it sores sore points in many men," says Luisa. Even where she is asked to interview, in politics and in the media, she experiences a male dominance. "Even with Dunja Hayali except for the woman in the mask and the presenter everywhere were men," she says. These are often men of generations in which emancipation, as the climate movement lives, has not yet arrived. At Fridays for Future they pay attention to the representation of all genders.
Luisa sees in the digital hate wave also confirmed the problem of privatization of climate protection. "That's blatantly neoliberal," says Luisa. She warns against losing sight of the big questions. It is not enough to forego air travel and eat no meat, while kerosene is not taxed and farm animal subsidies are subsidized. "There must be incentives, financially and otherwise, that a climate-friendly life is not a matter of money, but a matter of course." To create a political framework is the task of politics, not of private individuals.
Luisa's goal is structural and political change, not being the perfect climate activist. She adds a word to her Twitter and Instagram account: humanely (Human). "The perfect climate protector does not exist, I'm only human. I'm just Luisa. "There was no time for coffee this Friday.