By Yann Schreiber
Many protesters are still angry at the 2015 ‘Dieselgate’ scandal when Volkswagen falsified the data on diesel emissions
Thousands of protesters, many on bicycles, gathered in the southern German city of Frankfurt last week to protest outside the city’s motor show, part of a new wave of environmental activism.
Between 15,000 and 25,000 people—according to estimates from the police and the organisers respectively—turned out calling for radical change, in a sign of growing impatience with the motor industry.
Campaigners are pressing Germany’s car industry to go green and abandon internal combustion engines. The rally followed up on protests inside the Frankfurt Exhibition Centre earlier in the week.
“The car industry has cheated on diesel and is contributing to the worsening climate crisis,” said Gerald Neubauer, a spokesman for the campaign group Campact, co-organisers of Saturday’s demonstration Saturday at Frankfurt’s biennial International Motor Show (IAA).
Diesel-fuelled cars have remained at low levels of popularity in Germany following Volkswagen’s massive “dieselgate” emissions cheating scandal of 2015.
“The motor show represents the last century,” Christoph Bautz, director of Campact, one of the campaigning group’s behind the protest, told AFP.
“We want the future to belong to the bus, the trains and to bicycles—we don’t want any more.”
Two stretches of motorway were sealed off to allow thousands of the protesters to make their way to the venue on bicycles.
The combination of protests and civil disobedience aimed at Germany’s car industry shows the sector no longer enjoys the untouchable status it once held as a key driver in Europe’s biggest economy.
The 10-day long IAA show, where the latest automobile trends are being showcased until September 22, is crystallising tensions over the car industry in Germany, where climate change is shaking up the public discourse.
There are already calls to ban gas-guzzling SUVs from German city centres after four pedestrians, including a three-year-old boy, were killed this month when one mounted the pavement in Berlin.
“Such tank-like cars do not belong in cities,” tweeted Stephan von Dassel, a Greens politician and mayor of Berlin’s Mitte district, where the fatal accident happened.
“They are ‘climate killers’, even without accidents—every driving error becomes a life-threatening danger for innocent (pedestrians).”
Protests against German car industry rev up in Frankfurt
By Yann Schreiber