Resistance In The Roads
On November 20th, a group of over 70 activists with Last Generation Austria swarmed onto the A2 motorway into Vienna, poured non-toxic orange paint on the asphalt and glued their hands to the ground, demanding that the Austrian government take immediate action on the climate crisis. The rebels are asking that the government, and Chancellor Karl Nehammer, institute the 93 recommendations from a Citizens’ Assembly which was held in Austria last year on dealing with the climate crisis. The proposals which the Climate Assembly (or Climate Council) presented on July 4th, 2022 included items such as the abolition of fossil fuel subsidies, the abolition of the destruction of new goods, lower speed limits, and the enshrinement of the fundamental right to protection from the climate crisis.
After the first group of activists on the motorway was taken into custody by the police, another group replaced them who were then also arrested. Finally, a third wave of resisters took their place in the road, blockading it for a chance at a survivable future. The police arrested these as well, eventually taking several dozen activists into custody.
Lorenz Trattner, a 24-year old student, had this to say about the action: "We are protesting here because we no longer have any other choice. Our government is still ignoring the devastating consequences of the climate catastrophe. Our future is at stake and we are calling on the federal government to do so now to act. There are enough solutions: The Climate Council proposes 93 sensible ideas. Time for Nehammer to start working!”
One protester held a sign which read: “Free Martha,” in reference to Martha Krumpeck, the 31-year-old cofounder of Last Generation Austria. She is currently being held in arbitrary detention. She was supposed to be released Thursday the 16th, but will now most likely be released tomorrow, November 28th, instead.
On the following day, Tuesday, November 21st, another group of over 70 citizens from Last Generation flooded busy roads in Vienna, repeatedly shutting down streets and intersections for short periods in small groups during early morning traffic. Activist Marina Hagen-Canaval explained, “The longer the government ignores our demand for the implementation of the Climate Council recommendations, the more unpleasant our protest becomes.”
Melanie Giesauer, a 32-year-old sewage planner and mother who was in resistance that day, had this to say: "The climate catastrophe is escalating before our eyes and the government is still not taking any protective measures. Drought, fires, extreme heat, flood disasters and famine threaten the future of my little daughter. I can no longer look her in the eye without taking action… Demonstrations, petitions, discussions and referendums have brought no change. I hate sitting here and disturbing people, but unfortunately I no longer see any other way to call on the government to finally pass the 93 [climate proposals] to implement socially just measures of the Climate Council. No punishment is too high for my daughter’s future!”
Tuesday’s events culminated with people from Last Generation gathering on the ring in front of Parliament in the afternoon. Two resisters cemented their hands to the road with superglue and sand. These utterly outraged people once again demanded that the government, especially Chancellor Karl Nehammer, finally take the Climate Council's recommendations seriously.
Spokeswoman Laila Fusiz, 22, commented on the prospects of increased punishment and repression, “We will expand our protests. I expect Nehammer to take decisive action against the climate crisis. Threatening us with harsher punishments is not effective. If Nehammer finally implements the recommendations of the Climate Council, we will be off the streets immediately.”
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“What are our responsibilities at this time? Because of the fossil fuel industry, we are facing horrors of a magnitude never before experienced in our existence. Our government continues to lead us to the edge of no return. We must stand up and defend ourselves. No one else is going to do it. It must be us, if we want to live.
Our methods must be disruptive, and they must be nonviolent. Our actions are evidence-based, credible, and we have a plan. The only thing missing at this point in time is YOU!”
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