INTERVIEW with MAX FERDINAND from „FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE“ Halle
by Farid Taher
In your opinion, what is the reason why climate change has received so much attention in the recent past and why not earlier?
Because of FFF we were able to direct the public debate onto the problems of climate change. This has helped winning a lot of attention. Our continuous strikes brought the topic into the public. Also, the discussion about the Hambacher Forst played a big part in contributing to the debate about climate change and fossil-fuel phase-out.
The attention didn’t come earlier because there wasn’t enough pressure coming from scientists and people. Also, the refugee crisis played its part, a lot of the social discourse in recent times was directed towards migration.
Fridays For Future urges a fossil-fuel phase-out by 2030 and 100% renewable energy in Germany by 2035. Those demands are ambitious but necessary to reach the 1,5°C target of the Paris Agreement. Do you see the required actions as a chance or a challenge for the implementation of your goals?
If necessary measures are implemented, then this is the chance for Germany to achieve its climate targets, that Germany will become a role model for other countries worldwide and that the climate crisis will finally be combated beyond the goals of the government and the EU, i.e. that ultimately, a more sustainable, ecological and fairer world will be built. Realising all these steps, on the other hand, will be a challenge. Especially turning the demands into reality in a socially fair way will be challenging. But with the right effort, this will be manageable.
Counteracting climate change can start by changing own behaviours, for example through a more aware consumption of certain products and services or avoiding them all together. Do such individual decisions have a notable impact or is it predominantly the responsibility of politics, economy and industry to overcome the climate crises?
The climate crisis cannot be overcome without a change of individual awareness, but also not without the efforts in politics. Politics can achieve a lot through appropriate laws and measures, which in turn can influence corporations, the economy and the population.
In the current situation, politics does not do enough and therefore the pressure on politics is increased by the population, by institutions and by some corporations. The change of awareness cannot be achieved without politics, but also not without individual commitment and this change of awareness is necessary to stop or contain climate change.
Are there ways to stop climate change which do not involve sacrifice or political restriction?
I think taking action also means to sacrifice. But sacrifice does not necessarily have to be forced by restrictions, a lot can be reached by incentives. If going by car for example would be more expensive than public transport, it wouldn’t forbid driving, but going by bike or using public transport would be more attractive. You can see that people realise being faster by bike in cities, e.g. when traffic jams lead to cars being stuck on the road, so some will then switch to cycling.
I don’t think sacrifice always has to be seen as something negative. To abstain from eating meat could help people to a better health. It always sounds horrible getting limited but sometimes it cannot be avoided.
Do you encounter a lot of criticism through your activism? How do you reply to that?
Criticism often comes from social media. I try to talk to these people and listen to their opinion. Often, their tone is not respectful. This is when I stop these conversations because I realise it’s pointless. Sometimes we get good comments, additional ideas and constructive criticism. I am particularly glad about this.
The strikes of Fridays For Future get a lot of attention. Do you personally have the feeling that you create enough impact on climate policy through that medium? Where would you like to have more participation?
I am 15 years old and I don’t feel represented well enough by politics. It doesn’t matter if it is on municipal, state, federal or on EU level, in many decisions I don’t see the interests of my and following generations represented. Essentially, exactly this protection of life resources for future generations is anchored in our constitution (Article 20a), which is why I am angry about political decisions that run our future aground.
Because of Fridays For Future my impact on regional/local policy has grown strongly. I am very happy about this, since my interests get more attention.
Thank you for taking the time. Do you want to express one more message or a wish?
Please participate in our protests and also help us in our preparations. Be aware of a sustainable way of living, because every small step helps to contribute to the preservation of our planet.
Max Ferdinand is a 15 year-old, politically interested student at Latina – Musikzweig Grammar School in Halle (Saale). Since January 2019 he is actively engaged for Fridays For Future Halle.