Climate Activists Stage Protest at German Formula E Race
On Sunday, the Berlin E-Prix had to be delayed after a gaggle of climate activists attempted to glue themselves to the starting grid. While the setback itself was minor, the protest has reportedly left everyone scratching their heads — as the event was part of the Formula E racing category which only fields all-electric vehicles.
According to The Race, several members from the Last Generation activist group scaled the fences of the Tempelhof Airport Street Circuit and began trying to glue themselves to the track and several support vehicles. The group was identified as the likely organization due to how many of the protestors were wearing shirts featuring its logo and the fact that it had previously made threats that it would be preventing specific events from taking place.
From The Race:
The group had made warnings that it would target specific events throughout Germany, telling a German website (thelocal-de) recently that they “will come to Berlin and bring the city to a standstill in order to get the government to move forward”.
It was claimed that over 800 people from around the country had signed up for its activities.
Local media have also recently reported that a rally at the Brandenburg Gate was slated for Sunday April 23, followed by “blockade actions” throughout the city in the coming week.
The activists have been known as ‘the climate stickers’ (Klimakleber) due to their propensity to use adhesives to glue themselves to infrastructure to disrupt traffic flow in cities.
Last Generation later took credit for the situation and uploaded a video of the short-lived protest at the track. It coincided with a dozen or so similar acts where members had glued themselves to public streets over the weekend in a bid to stop traffic.
“It's time to slow down,” the organization wrote on Twitter. “Because we're on the highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”
Based on multiple reports, security handled the situation swiftly and forcibly removed the activists from the premises. The race started just six minutes behind schedule.
These types of protests have become relatively common in Europe and we’ve likewise seen the tactic used in the United States (albeit for different reasons) in recent years. However, many of the drivers expressed confusion as to why the group would target a Formula E event.
Robin Frijns, who found himself in pole position after some wet weather, told The Race that he didn’t understand what the protestors were trying to accomplish.
“I just cannot really get my head around those people, what they are thinking really,” he said. “We are here, Formula E is standing for helping the environment and then they do this. I don’t really understand.”
Porsche’s Antonio Felix da Costa likewise told the outlet that he “was not a fan of that sort of stuff.”
“I think we are all fighting for the same right? I’m not sure what they are trying to do because we are probably the worst category in motorsport for them to come and do this at,” da Costa said.
“We are by far the most ecological, sustainable and new zero series that ever existed.”
While we’re certainly not here to support people interested in preventing racing events, the above reasoning is a little reductive. It’s been getting harder to make the claim that EVs are overwhelmingly good for the environment.
Over the last several years, assertions that widespread electrification is the solution to every climate emergency imaginable have started to fall apart. Mining operations are polluting seas, tainting groundwater, and appear to represent some of the most harrowing labor conditions of the modern era.
But Germany has an extra special relationship with EVs and alternative energy sources. The nation has pivoted aggressively toward renewables and had found itself in a serious bind even before the Russo-Ukrainian War spiked fuel prices into the stratosphere. This has only gotten worse since somebody blew up the Nord Stream pipeline, with the United States hopeful the European nation will buy more of its fuel.
Meanwhile, German labor unions have been protesting automakers’ push to build more all-electric vehicles. The issue here is that EVs require less human labor to manufacture and the outsourcing of more work to China. To the surprise of nobody, widespread layoffs aren’t exactly what any populace wants in the midst of an economic crisis.
It’s totally reasonable to assume that these climate activists, mad as they may be, are getting hip to some of the perils of alternative energy vehicles and spreading their disdain around more liberally. But I don’t think anybody sane wants to see them gluing themselves to the pavement anymore either.
[Image: Letzte Generation/Twitter]
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A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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