For immediate release:
Munich and Berlin, January 16, 2024
Yesterday, two trials took place in Germany in which four scientists and activists from Greece, France and Germany had to answer for their peaceful protest against the failure of German politics in the face of the climate crisis. Once again, members of the Scientist Rebellion group were convicted without the courts addressing the distressing facts of the climate crisis.
At the Munich II Regional Court, two academics were sentenced to 90 daily rates each for damage to property and trespassing, while another person's case was dropped in exchange for a fine. At the same time, the Berlin Regional Court heard the appeal of a geology professor who had been sentenced to a fine at first instance for his protest. The defendants argued that their actions were necessary to mitigate the impending climate catastrophe by pressuring the government to act in accordance with international agreements and the alarming data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This highlighted the urgent need to rapidly decarbonise society, for which there is only a window of opportunity that is closing rapidly.
The trial in Munich was the second of several court cases brought against the 16 members of Scientist Rebellion. The SR activists had already spent a week in custody in Stadelheim prison immediately after their protests at the investment company BlackRock and the car manufacturer BMW. When determining the sentence, which was significantly lower than expected, the judge took into account that the damage caused by glue was minor and no damage at all from the water-soluble sugar syrup..
“I am relieved to finish the trial after having experienced a lot of anxiety from this unjustified repression. I have mixed feelings, but I want to appreciate the solidarity from many people that I've experienced in this journey. However, I'm also super angry about the threats of criminal records and huge fines for trying to ring the alarm about the reality of the climate crisis, illustrating the toxicity of the system. We must continue to fight!" says Nicolas, an environmental engineer from France.
After the trial, Agisilaos Koulouris from Greece said in response to the verdict: “In the midst of climate collapse, disruptive actions are justified, proportional and necessary. If climate activists are convicted, then justice really is blind.”
The appeal proceedings of Prof Froitzheim, who had blocked a bridge in Berlin's government district together with 15 scientists, were rejected despite his plea for a justifiable state of emergency. The scientist, professor of structural geology at the University of Bonn, commented: "In this trial, more than in previous ones, I had the feeling that I was talking to a wall. The court was not prepared to deal with my motives and my despair, as if the climate crisis would solve itself if those who draw attention to it were silenced."
The appeal proceedings of another member of Scientist Rebellion last week showed that judges can also reach different judgements. Although the physicist took part in the same action as Prof Froitzheim, the Berlin Regional Court confirmed his acquittal on 11 January 2024, which had already been determined at first instance.
Scientist Rebellion is an international movement of scientists and academics from more than 34 countries calling for peaceful civil disobedience in the face of policy failure regarding the climate crisis. The Climate Emergency Fund supports the mobilization, training, structure-building and educational work of Scientist Rebellion.
Details on the actions in Munich
In October 2022, the defendants participated in three actions against BlackRock, BMW and the German government for their responsibility as major contributors to the climate crisis. The first action happened at the entrance to BlackRock's offices, where the activists performed a performance pouring molasses (symbolizing oil) and stuck to the windows and the floor. BlackRock is an investment fund known for its role in the expansion of fossil fuel exploitation and the debt of countries in the Global South.
Three days later, the group visited a showroom at BMW Welt headquarters where they smeared several show cars with molasses, glued scientific articles on the climate crisis to the cars and walls and ended up sticking their hands with glue to the BMW M8, the most luxurious and polluting car at the exhibition. The automobile company BMW invests large amounts of money to pressure governments to delay transport decarbonization policies and to greenwash its image.
Details on the action in Berlin
In April 2022, 15 members of Scientist Rebellion dressed in white lab coats blocked the Kronprinzenbrücke in Berlin's government district for several hours. Their protest took place to mark the publication of the World Climate Report. The scientists had glued themselves to the roadway of the bridge, which crosses the Spree at the Reichstag building, and chained themselves together. They also unfurled a banner that read: "1.5 degrees is dead. Climate revolution now".
Scientist Rebellion #TheScienceIsClear
Nate Rugh, phone: +34 634 43 90 59