A statement to the Bavarian government, 1 September 2023

A statement to the Bavarian government, 1 September 2023

Jörg Alt SJ

Today is the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. Pope Francis exhorts in his message today: “The unrestrained burning of fossil fuels and the destruction of forests are pushing temperatures higher and leading to massive droughts. Alarming water shortages increasingly affect both small rural communities and large metropolises…(L)eaders…must listen to science and institute a rapid and equitable transition to end the era of fossil fuel.”

That is like addressing Bavaria.

As I already explained in my speech on 17 August.: “Temperatures … have already risen above average: While worldwide we are at 1.2 degrees C, Bavaria is 1.9 degrees C above the pre-industrial age … The rise in temperature is accompanied by decreasing precipitation and groundwater levels…. Water will soon be more valuable than oil, and Minister-President Markus Söder also knows this.”

But is the Bavarian state government acting accordingly? No!

Everywhere, Minister-President Söder emphasizes that Bavaria is a car state and is the primary road transport mode. That is a patent remedy for further fossil fuel use – and more. The Christian Social Union of Bavaria or Christlich Soziale Union (CSU) and the Free Voters of Bavaria or Freie Wähler Bayern (FW) leave no doubt that this will remain so in the foreseeable future because according to the CSU Election Program for the 2023 state election:

“We owe our prosperity to the car. The car remains central to mobility in the future. Individual mobility is freedom, especially in rural areas. We want to lead the car state of Bavaria into the future and reject driving bans. We stand by our automotive industry. We say ‘yes’ to the location of new plants and we say ‘yes’ to the internal combustion engine.” (page 17)

But it CAN’T go on like this – continuing with fossil fuels endangers the prosperity of all of us and EXPLODES the global resources. And with this the Pope is more clear-sighted than the Bavarian Minister-President and the CSU.

That is why we are sitting here today in front of the Bavarian Ministry of Transport on the street. And that is why we are sitting here at 90 seconds to 12 noon, because this is the current state of the Doomsday Clock, the symbol of man’s potential to his own self-destruction.

This claim is buttressed by the presence here today of the Ecojesuit Global Coordinator, Fr. Dr. Pedro Walpole. Dr. Walpole speaks of the Jesuits’ experiences worldwide who seek to participate in an integral ecology and are familiar with the consequences of the climate catastrophe in the Global South. These Jesuits published a statement of support for my and the Last Generation’s peaceful protest, and adopted especially for today.

On the financial solidarity for the Global South, how much should that be? On 17 August, I proposed the following: “Since 1992, the rich countries of the world have committed themselves to allocating 0.7% of their gross national income to development aid. Bavaria is far away from this and provides for it straight times 10 million euro. If Bavaria gave 0.7% of its gross national product, that would be about 4.3 billion euros.”

Does the Bavarian state government act accordingly? No.

Will a state government of CSU and FW act accordingly? Probably not.

That is why we are sitting here today on the street in front of the State Chancellery, because we can’t think of anything better to draw attention to the urgent need of the Global South today.

But what is the Bavarian state government doing instead?

Demonstrators, who present scientifically founded, legally legitimate and morally required demands are harassed, dragged from the street, surrounded, arrested, and locked up in preventive detention.

This is one of the reasons why I am sitting here today in solidarity with representatives of the Last Generation and await my fifth arrest and my seventh criminal trial.

I repeat my 17 August exhortation: “Listen to the message, stop locking up the messengers! Locking up the messengers and their harassment do not solve any of the foreseeable and addressed problems.”

When former US President Barack Obama gave his remarks at the First Session of COP21 in Paris, France on 30 November 2015, he said: “…As one of America’s governors has said, ‘We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change, and the last generation that can do something about it.’”

One last word:

Dear motorists! Don’t scold the demonstrators. Rail against the politicians, whose ignorance of the Paris climate agreement, the Karlsruhe “climate verdict”, and their own climate laws makes our blockade necessary in the first place. Honk gladly, loudly, and more, so that Minister-President Söder and Minister of Transport Christian Bernreiter will know about our protest.

Thank you very much!

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