German mayor strikes deal to stop group's climate roadblocks
BERLIN (AP) — The German city of Hannover has reached an agreement with climate activists to stop blocking roads, after its mayor announced Thursday that he supports several of their demands.
Mayor Belit Onay said he held talks with representatives from the group Last Generation in recent days to stop them gluing themselves to roads — a tactic that has enraged many motorists. The group says its goal is to highlight the need for tougher action against global warming but the protests have sparked fierce criticism among some in Germany who say they're dangerous and harm the climate cause.
“At times the situation here was extremely close to tipping point,” Onay told The Associated Press. “There were some very confrontational situations with a lot of anger on the roads during such blockades.”
“That's why I wanted to resolve this and not let it escalate further,” he said.
In a letter to senior German lawmakers posted on his Instagram account, Onay said he supports the group's call for a general speed limit on national highways, a measure that experts say would considerably reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars at little cost. He also backed a system of public transport fares that would be even cheaper than the 49 euro ($52) monthly ticket agreed last year.
The Hannover mayor said he disagrees with the group's demands for citizens' assemblies that would have the power to legislate national climate action, but that he supports creating such bodies to advise parliaments.
In a statement, Last Generation said it has agreed to stop its protests in Hannover in response to Onay's letter, the first city where such an agreement has been reached.
Onay, a former Green party lawmaker who has led the city of more than 500,000 inhabitants since 2019, said further talks would depend on the activists sticking to their side of the bargain.
“I made clear that we won't allow ourselves to be blackmailed and we won't accept an ultimatum,” he told The AP. “If we are to have a conversation then it can only be without protests.”
Frank Jordans, The Associated Press