Climate activists stop Berlin traffic to pressure government

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Environmental activists blocked dozens of streets in Berlin on Monday in a bid to push the government to do more to tackle climate change, an action condemned by Germany’s finance minister as “physical violence”.

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“We no longer accept that the government has no plan to stop the destruction of the basis of our existence,” Carla Rochel, a spokeswoman for Last Generation, the group behind the protests, said in a statement.

Campaigners halted traffic across the city by glueing themselves to the street surface, including on the busy motorway A100.

Some 33 sites were blocked at 9:00 am local time (0700 GMT), a spokeswoman for the Berlin police told AFP, adding that around 500 officers had been deployed to secure the streets and remove the protesters.

Police used a drill to dislodge one activist who was glued firmly to the ground, an AFP journalist saw, leaving the protestor with a slab of asphalt stuck to his hand.

Berlin’s transport information network said on Twitter that the protests caused “massive traffic disruptions”, although police were able to clear most of the blockages.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner condemned the protesters’ action, saying on Twitter that “no motive, no matter how noble, can hide the fact that the Berlin Blockade is nothing other than physical violence”.

“Those who want a different policy can found a party and seek majorities for their positions,” he added.

The government had done “more for the climate than any before it”, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said at a regular press conference, adding that the government did not support the activists’ tactics.

The Greens, also part of Scholz’s coalition, likewise criticized the protests. The street blockades were “not productive”, Britta Hasselmann, the Green party’s leader in parliament, told broadcaster ARD.

Last Generation has signaled its intention to continue with the blockades over the coming days.

“We’re bringing the city to a standstill so the government moves,” Last Generation activist Raphael Thelen said in a video posted on Twitter.

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