German climate activist group claims responsibility for Formula E protest

Formula E

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A German activist group has claimed responsibility after protestors stormed the grid ahead of the start of the second Berlin Eprix on Sunday.

The second Formula E race of the weekend was about to begin at the Berlin Templehof Airport circuit when a group of around five protesters climbed the debris fence on the main straight as cars were pulling onto their final grid slots in preparation for the start. The group each wore white t-shirts bearing logos and slogans and attempted to sit on the grid in front of many of the cars already lined up for the start.

Security personnel rushed onto the grid to remove the protestors, who were then arrested by police. The interruption delayed the start of the race by over six minutes, which eventually began with a grid start as planned.

A German group Letzte Generation (Last Generation), who describe themselves on their Mastodon page as a group of “climate justice activists”, claimed responsibility for the disruption. The group is engaging in a series of activities around the German capital city this weekend to call for increased government action to protect citizens from the impact of climate change.

A video posted by the group on social media showed the moment that activists scaled the catch fencing to get onto the circuit.

“We are at the @eFORMELde [sic] racetrack to sound the alarm,” Letzte Generation posted. “It’s time to slow down. Because we’re on the highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator.”

The incident is the latest in a series of climate change related protests at high-profile sporting events, including motorsport. Last year’s British Grand Prix was interrupted by a group of activists breaching the circuit at the start of the race on the Wellington Straight, however the race had already been red flagged due to a heavy accident involving Zhou Guanyu at the first corner. The Silverstone protestors, of the group Just Stop Oil, were convicted of causing a public nuisance and received a mix of suspended prison sentences and community orders.

Formula E is the only FIA accredited world championship which runs on all-electric power, with cars producing zero emissions from racing. The delayed race was eventually won by Envision driver Nick Cassidy.

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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16 comments on “German climate activist group claims responsibility for Formula E protest”

  1. Shame you had to give the group attention. It would have been okay to just call out the incident without doing that. The only way to stop these things from happening is to stop making them worthwhile to do.

  2. Do they want to get more nuclear power plants closed and burn more coal?

  3. petebaldwin (@)
    23rd April 2023, 18:30

    Seems like a dumb event to target to be honest. Most climate change deniers hate Formula E by default….

    Are they telling us to stop using electric cars? 🤷‍♂️

    1. Seems like a dumb event to target to be honest.

      I think it’s the eco-footprint of the globe-trotting of the whole entourage, that some of the protesters might want to highlight.
      The way they’ve done doesn’t seem to highlight, or feature that element, so yep “pretty dumb”

    2. Yes. Personal transport like cars is not something a significant number climate protesters do not agree with. Formula E is a discretionary activity, that one can argue, that uses the ‘climate crisis’ as justification for its existence. it’s a net negative because there’s not real reason for it to exist beyond as a discretionary activity to promote car use.

      If anything this makes it more of a target. People need to understand that a certain sect of protestors don’t look at Formula E and think “oh great look how motorsport is working towards our cause” they see it as something completely different. It’s a bunch of very wealthy people globe trotting in race cars.

      I’ve never been that positive about FE’s credentials anyway. I could lob 20 superkarts in the back of one the HGV. Each kart requires one mechanic. And go just as fast with vastly less infrastructure and transport. But I digress.

    3. They are telling people to stop using cars and travelling over great distances period. People in here saying that electric cars are good for the climate is banzai. Complete lack of knowledge and being narrowminded.

      A car no matter what fuels it holds 0 people for 95% of its life time, for just 2% of its time there is more than one passenger while car infrastucture take up around 10% of surface usage. That lack of optimization and usage is a massive waste, and no that isn’t an argument for people sitting in their cars more, but to undertand that the technology and use is completely wrong and people have less use of a car than they think. What they might need is transportation to get from A to B to C over different distances.

  4. As sad as it is to say, in order to make the changes needed it requires people of influence or some kind of intermediary. Governments are generally reactive, they’re not in the business of persuading people, they’re in the business of acted upon the wishes of the persuaded and get their vote. And the lobbyists act on money.

    I imagine if I was to sit with these people we’d agree on a lot. But these stunts? No. They’re not helpful. It makes you look daft and when you look daft you’re starting 12 yards back in the argument (unless you’re Boris, who somehow gets a head start).

    I think the impact of Emily Davison has been somewhat misconstrued over the years. I very much doubt they’ve accomplished anything with this. They may as well join the People’s Front of Judea.

    1. Or maybe Judean People’s Front? ;-)

  5. This frustrates me immensely. You’re never going to get people to hear your message and get onboard by doing this. I’d argue this sort of protest actually undermines their argument and puts them in a position where people with a dim view of environmentalism can simply write them off as morons. It’s like targeting an indigenous nursery for loss of biodiversity! It’s painful to see because the message needs to be heard.

  6. The irony of a climate activism group stopping an electric car race to increase visibility on climate issues is too much!

  7. At least they did not glue themselves to the start line. Insane, confused little attention seekers.

    Not only they delayed the start, but also prevented last couple of cars from doing warm-up burn-out. But since the rest of the grid were stationary for additional couple of minutes I guess it did not matter.

    Cheers for security after they got rid of protesters tell the whole story.

  8. You don’t negotiate with terrorists!

  9. To target a racing series than only exists because an industry is shifting in response to climate change is really dumb. It reminds me of when protestors glued themselves to DLR trains in London, and giving the impression they didn’t want people to take public transport!

    1. It’s not an industry many activists support though. So whether it shifts towards what some consider ‘greener’ doesn’t really matter.

  10. I think these things are going to increase as climate change isn’t going anywhere. Only way they could achieve something is to do this every day. It won’t happen and climate is going to change. Still racing will continue and the world just moves on.

  11. Some people are of greatest value when they reach zero CO2 emission.

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