Ramona Wüst of Fridays for Future
"We only have one planet earth"
Ramona, many young people in Munich have been taking to the streets for more climate protection every Friday since January. Why?
Ramona Wüst: In Munich, we almost always had 1,000 or more participants! We are in the middle of a climate crisis. In order to achieve compliance with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and to limit global warming to less than 1.5 ° C, we must act now. We, Fridays for Future Germany, are taking to the streets because nothing much is happening – besides a lot of talking. Above all, politics must finally wake up!
In your opinion, what should politicians do?
The politicians must finally understand that if we say "crisis", we really mean "crisis". Everyone must become aware that there is an acute need for action. We can't just wait and see what happens, true to the motto "if we screw it up this time, we'll do it better next time". We only have one planet earth, and there won't be a next time.
Are you in direct contact with any politicians?
Yes. As a political spokeswoman, I am in contact with some of the local politicians. We want to set up a round table with representatives of all parliamentary groups, the economy, science, trade unions, and us. This permanent body should cooperate to try and work out solutions. One of our demands is that the political parties will work together – across all political groups – to ensure that the Climate Protection Act will be passed in Bavaria in 2019.
How did you become the political spokeswoman for Fridays for Future?
At a climate camp in Munich, I met Toni Messerschmidt, another TUM student. We talked about Greta and decided that something had to happen. Then, we started a smaller group and sent out a chain message via Whatsapp – and there were so many people who shared our concerns and wanted to get involved that the Whatsapp group literally exploded. During the Christmas holidays, we organized two meetings and founded an organizing team. This is how Fridays for Future came into being in Munich. Then, I agreed to act as political spokeswoman.
Many people are accusing the demonstrators of just being truant? What do you think about allegations like this?
Those who are accusing us of truancy haven't understood that this is about a real crisis. It is a common human reaction to fall into a counter-attack if someone realizes that another person is right, but can't or won't admit it. The fact is that there have been demonstrations for climate protection before, but only the Friday protests have gotten enough attention to ensure that our demands are heard.
Climate protection concerns us all. What can every one of us do?
That's right: it's not only about politics, and everyone has to do a bit of homework – such as avoiding air travel, eating less meat, using a bike instead of a car, and of course you can join the demonstrations and write to political representatives or companies. A lot will change in the coming years, and we have to be prepared for that. If we manage to bring about changes together, it will be easier for us to keep up individually. It is important for us to also recognize the chances that a crisis can offer. In my opinion, the university must do something as well.
In what way?
We already have many great courses of study at TUM – such as, for example, Resource Efficient and Sustainable Building. But these are niche offers, and there is still too much focus on the "old" energy sources. Many of the programs don't aim to teach or develop solutions to meet the climate goals. For example, I visited a module in which we talked about "weak sustainability" 80% of the time – a sustainability model that is not sustainable at all. There has to be a rethinking in order to make the students fit for the challenges of the climate crisis.
The climate crisis is on everyone's lips – so haven't you already reached your goal?
It is not enough that everyone has heard about the climate crisis and knows some facts. When Greta says we should panic, she means that we should also act in accordance with what we know. We all need to become so scared that we will finally start acting. Rationality alone has never helped us humans along in crises. If that were the case, we would have taken adequate measures to deal with the climate crisis ages ago.
(Interview: Sabrina Czechofsky)
Ramona Wüst (25) is a student of Environmental Engineering at TUM, and she is about to complete her Master's thesis. As a political spokeswoman for Fridays for Future München, her job is to engage in conversation with politicians. She also speaks at the Friday demonstrations regularly, informing the participants about how the talks are getting along.