by Zuzanna Kaczmarek and Abaigeal Lorge
“It’s bigger than what an individual can do.”
Thrifted jacket, bag, unbranded, worn-out jeans. Pauline Daemgen is a 17-year-old climate activist from Berlin, Germany. She may look like an average student, but Pauline is much more than just that –the delegate of Berlin, spokesperson, social media coordinator for Fridays for Future, communicating the movement among all of Germany.
While studying at a Waldorf school in Berlin, she learned about the severity of climate change and the environmental movement through her friends. Upon learning about the weekly protests, Pauline participated in her first Fridays for Future strike on February 1, 2019. She soon became the connection between the movement and her school, inspiring others from her community to join.
It all started by organising events through a Whatsapp group chat. Simple as that. Now Pauline regularly participates in the weekly strikes and has taken a leadership role as the delegate for Fridays for Future Berlin.
When asked what an average person can do to support climate justice, Pauline replied: “It’s bigger than what an individual can do.” Although we can replace cars with bicycles, reduce meat consumption, avoid flying among many other things, she believes that is just not enough. This is her motivation to inspire others to go out on the streets and call out to political leaders, pleading for change. After seeing a crowd of over 270 thousand young individuals in Berlin standing up for climate justice and for their future, she “cried like two times.”
Pauline believes a politician’s main argument is that people who vote are not necessarily concerned with environmental issues and do not demand climate protection. But now with 1.4 million people out on the streets of Germany, the politicians have no choice but to accept that humanity is calling for change. They “have to –in a way, roll with it.”
“We say we are going to strike until you act, but I don’t see that.” According to Pauline, the strikes are having an impact on bringing forth awareness, but it’s not enough. The climate package they have received from the German government following the September 20th global strike was “total bullsh*t.” But she has no power over action. “We go on until they act, or we die.” Whatever comes first.
Because in the end, “I don’t know what else to do. I’m seventeen. I can’t vote, I can’t do anything. All I can do is go on the streets and strike to, like… survive.”