For almost two hours, Wissing met in Berlin to exchange ideas with the activists. Members of the group regularly tape themselves to streets, blocking traffic or daubing artwork to draw attention to their demands. The group sees itself as the last generation before the tipping points – points at which a cascading worsening of the climate crisis will start if they are crossed.

Both sides had a common understanding of the climate catastrophe and agreed that swift action was needed, explained the last generation. Opinions differ on the group’s demands and forms of protest.

The last generation demands a permanent nine-euro ticket for local transport and a speed limit of 100 kilometers per hour on German autobahns. “I’m not convinced by the arguments of the last generation,” Wissing said in advance on Deutschlandfunk. He also has “zero tolerance for criminals,” he said, referring to the group’s blockade actions.

It makes “no sense” to offer local transport permanently for nine euros and instead to forego investments, said Wissing. The minister argued that budgetary funds are also needed to push ahead with “the renovation of the railways and the expansion of public transport”, defending the 49-euro ticket against this background. Regarding the speed limit, he said that it was a “measure that brings little climate protection” and for which there was also no parliamentary majority and no majority in society.

The group explained that Wissing, in his capacity as Minister of Transport, would have to help “dismantle prejudices and concerns about the necessary changes”. The last generation saw the appointment on Tuesday as the “start of an important exchange” that should be continued. Now it is Scholz and other members of the government to talk to the last generation.

Sharp criticism of the meeting came from the Union. Wissing “rewards” “crimes in the service of a supposedly higher goal” and legitimize illegal actions, said the transport politician Thomas BareiƟ (CDU) AFP. The government must increase the minimum penalties for such acts “instead of welcoming the last generation to tea”.