Moritz Mattern, a 15-year-old-student from Dessau, spoke about the “Fridays For Future” movement he and his older brother started in January 2019. Mattern elaborates on goals, accomplishments, and difficulties their group has faced since its creation. “Fridays For Future” currently has around 500 members of which only about half actively participate in activities such as demonstrations. He divided their goals into two separate categories: local and national. Local goals include hopes to implement better bicycle traveling infrastructure in Dessau, as well as to make Dessau an environmentally friendly city. National goals of the group consist of eliminating fossil energy by 2030, and transitioning to 100% renewable energy sources by 2035. Following this, Mattern presents some of the accomplishments “Fridays For Future” has already achieved, such as clean-ups, public discussions and workshops, voting promotion, protests, and a bicycle event called “critical mass.”
Despite the outstanding accomplishments of their organization, Mattern also speaks about problems they have faced throughout the lifespan of this local group. The decreasing interest in the Fridays For Future movement is one of their biggest issues. Only about ten out of more than 1000 students from Mattern’s school are part of this organization, and sometimes only a small number of members attend the events, which Mattern explains can be somewhat frustrating considering the amount of effort exerted by the core members of the group to organize these events. Nevertheless, Mattern and the rest of his team are working on new ideas to create more awareness for “Fridays for Future” to hopefully become a driving force in resolving the issue of climate change.
Interview With Moritz Mattern:
BERMUN Press: What motivated you to start this Fridays For Future group in Dessau?
Mattern: What actually motivated me the most was that I wanted our small city of Dessau to be a part of something bigger. So we decided to organize a demonstration, and to our surprise 440 people showed up. We found that pretty cool and felt like we can really make a change so we decided to continue what we had started. We also just wanted to make people aware of climate change and its effects. It bothered me as well that Dessau currently has such poor bicycle infrastructure, because I enjoy using my bike, so that was also motivation.
BERMUN Press: What are some issues that come with starting and upholding such an organization?
Mattern: Well for one, this probably doesn’t occur as often in bigger cities but in a small city like Dessau, people often seem to be discriminated against by others for being engaged with movements or organizations that are trying to counteract climate change. For example, if one person starts engaging with climate change and is very outspoken about it, usually other people become interested in that topic as well, but in a small city like Dessau it's difficult for that individual’s opinion or idea to gain traction. It usually attracts backlash, and due to that backlash people decide to not be engaged with that topic anymore. I’ve meanwhile accomplished to get ten of my classmates to join our Friday’s for Future group.
BERMUN Press: What future goals does your group have, and do you have more precise or even new goals now since your group has already exceeded some of its previous asparations?
Mattern: Something we definitely would like to accomplish through this group is that as soon as possible we switch from our current, planet damaging energy sources to renewable energy. I personally am a fan of the idea of nuclear fusion as a possible energy source, although I believe that the technological advancements in this field aren’t at a point yet where this can be used as a reliable energy source. In addition, we would definitely like to better the bicycle infrastructure in Dessau. People should be enjoying riding their bikes again and not worrying about potentially breaking their bikes due to the awful conditions of the bicycle paths. We also believe that schools should start switching to recycled or renewable papier. Schools use tons of paper, which is self explanatory because they’re using it for educational purposes, which is important. We can't get rid of education obviously, which is not what I’m suggesting, but by implementing recycled paper we would be releasing a lot less C02, and possibly even spread awareness amongst students. If they notice that climate change is even affecting their schools, then they might engage more with the topic because they recognize that climate change truly affects almost every aspect of life.