By Rowan Sylva
The Berlin climate rally, (part of the global day of action in solidarity with the 300, 000 strong march in New York) was a rather relaxed affair, with estimates of the number of people ranging between 4,000 and 15,000. Unlike recent marches in Berlin demanding rights for refugees, there was a negligible police presence and the event had a more a feeling of a street festival than an angry protest.
Hot vegetarian food was served from long trestle tables, while stalls representing various interest groups, handing out literature and promoting their cause, lined the street. There was even a row of lovely wooden composting toilets, set up to service the needs of the protestors. Green balloons were the mark of the protest and every man and his dog had one of these heart shaped helium bubbles, complete with an attached message to the UN, demanding action on climate change.
A stage was set up under Brandenburg Gate, and a local political ska band provided entertainment for the masses, while on the other side of the famous triumphal arch, a silent climate disco was going on, as hip young greenies boogied down with earphones and the DJ cranked the silent beats from a tuktuk.
Further down the Seventeenth of June Street there were various other installations: a bed in the middle of the street with a “fuck coal” canopy, a bamboo structure with the message, “get angry,” a message that seemed at odds with the relaxed and happy throng. My attention was drawn to a sculpture, a permanent fixture on the avenue since 1989, named “the caller,” a bare foot man his eyes to the sky, his hands around his mouth calling the cry for peace.
By the titanic monument to the Russian victory over the Nazi’s attendees of the gathering had hung their green balloons and placed a green banner into the barrel of the tank’s gun.
Large rubber balls bounced around the crowd carrying the message to divest from fossil fuels, while a rather sad looking panda wandered, lonesome through the crowd. There were the usual messages, banners and signs of group affiliation.
At some point the band was replaced on the stage by some speakers to amp up the audience these included a bedraggled looking polar bear, and an Angela Merkal Impersonator. The event climaxed with the release of the helium balloons, which floated to the sound of applause through the cold autumn air, over the statue of Lady Victory, bearing their messages of climate action to the UN gathering in New York. But will they make it? and who I wonder will read them.
In conclusion Berlin’s climate rally was a pleasant event. It attracted the usual suspects, the young and the beautiful, the hip and the hairy, the veges and the vegans. The event was well organised; it was also entertaining and inclusive. But it was a far cry from the kind of mass nonpartisan movements that must shake the gates of Hell if they want governments to listen. Photographs by Daniela Gast.