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Dinkelsbühl holds the title of the most beautiful old town in Bavaria and is traditionally a conservative stronghold. But after 16 years under the conservative chancellor, Angela Merkel, the young green politicians Katharina Sparrer and David Schiepek believe it's time for a change.
According to Sparrer, who is a member of Alliance 90, there have been 16 years of standstill on climate protection and on social justice under Merkel.
So far during her election campaign, Sparrer says they've encountered people who welcome green change. They've also faced hate and anger. One of the frequent criticisms they hear is that the Greens are a party that likes to ban things. On countless occasions, she has explained to locals that the green's agenda will still allow them to use their diesel cars and that they won't be stopped from getting to A to B. To her and her green group, what they are focussing on is "the expansion of public transport, on a functioning rail network and good cycle paths."
Dinkelsbühl cannot currently be reached by train. The line was closed down 30 years ago. To Sparrer and the Greens, this is a symbol of what they call the failed transportation policy in Bavaria. They argue that the whole system is centered around cars and that the conservative party in power is hardly investing any money in trains and buses. Investing in alternative transportation is crucial to lowering Co2 emissions.
To Schiepek, also a member of the Alliance 90, these elections are all about the climate because he feels it is Germany's last opportunity to change course and make sure it achieves its climate goals. He says that he is afraid of living in a future where he can no longer be free and can no longer live in an intact ecosystem because of ecological crisis and climate change. To him, "a green policy, a future-oriented policy, protects our freedom instead of endangering it."
In the fight against climate change every day counts, that is why Schiepek alongside other activists and the organisation Environmental Action Germany is suing the state of Bavaria. They were motivated by another successful climate lawsuit. In April 2021, Fridays for Future and other NGOs won their court case against the national climate protection act at the Federal constitutional court in Karlsruhe. As a result, the German Government has had to rework climate legislation. Schiepek has just learnt that it is "legally possible to demand climate protection as a certified right of our generation."
Their claim is that the current Bavarian climate protection act is not precise enough and therefore ineffective. According to Schiepek, by law, there must be a specific year and a quantity of CO2 reductions specified so that the economy and society can plan what measures should be taken and when.
Only time will tell whether their legal case will be successful. Until then, what Sparrer and Schiepek really want to make clear is that it's not only about politics, it's about the future of their generation.