Day 21
3 minutes of knowledge transfer for people all over Germany actively involved in climate protection

Taking charge of climate protection Taking charge of climate protection

Going climate-neutral one town at a time - for a liveable, healthy future.

Samira from Jena has long been concerned about climate protection. In Jena, however, despite the declaration of a state of climate emergency, no progress was being made - in her opinion, local politicians did too little. So Samira and some fellow campaigners started Climate Plebiscite Jena to take climate protection into their own hands. After intensive preparation, the team began collecting signatures for a citizens' petition in the summer of 2021. Their demand: Jena should be climate neutral by 2035. Locals queued up at their stand. Less than two weeks later, the city converted the petition into a city council resolution. Now the team is working on a climate action plan. It is important to them that the inhabitants are involved, that measures are socially just and that a technological and social transition is initiated. Besides the success of advancing climate protection in Jena, Samira appreciates the work with like-minded people. They show: There is a lot we can do.



Substantive and organisational support for citizens who want to start a climate plebiscite in their municipality



GermanZero helps local voluntary climate activists to get started and work for effective and binding climate protection

Countable effort


Number of Climate Plebiscite teams established and active on the ground



In more German cities, climate plebiscites initiated by volunteers are yielding concrete climate protection measures

Systemic effect


A growing number of municipalities on the path to climate neutrality are helping Germany take another step towards meeting the 1.5 degree target


The Climate Plebiscite project enables citizens to campaign for effective climate protection in their communities. This contributes decisively to regions becoming climate neutral more quickly and to averting the climate crisis.
For a rapid and deep reduction of greenhouse gases – which is a crucial factor in limiting global warming – it is not so much individual measures that are needed, but rather a systemic change, supported by a legal framework. To begin this transformation, action must be taken at all levels. Many provisions of an effective climate change law must ultimately be implemented locally: From the use of public space to transport concepts to heat supply – municipalities and districts have many duties and responsibilities that need to be designed in a climate-friendly way.
Climate plebiscites tie in with the climate emergency proclaimed in many municipalities in recent years. Through direct democracy, citizens can participate in the shaping of local politics. The teams use a variety of methods to do this, including public relations and advocacy work and collecting signatures. Once a resolution has been reached, the teams support the creation and implementation of plans for climate neutrality. GermanZero has accumulated a large body of knowledge about where local CO2 emissions occur, how they can be effectively reduced, and what both the costs and the economic opportunities are. Local carbon neutrality enables people to live and work more sustainably, and municipalities to be more proactive in their management and create sustainable infrastructure. This turns municipalities into pioneers of climate protection – which in turn creates pressure on federal government to act.

The good deed

Your donation can give climate activists who want to take climate protection into their hands in their communities a real boost. Information events are offered and people network with others in their area. Once a team has been found, there is a workshop in which the new team is given everything they need to get started right away: a climate vision for their community that outlines the path to climate neutrality; a guide on how citizens' petitions work; instructions on what is needed for the campaign - in other words, a blueprint for a successful climate plebiscite. But that's not all: All teams are advised and connected in such a way that they learn from and with each other. This creates a project in which citizens can actively engage in climate protection and take direct action with a concrete goal. At the same time, a movement is being created that will make Germany climate neutral one town at a time and will also have an impact on the state and federal level.


About Germany






Number of inhabitants



Gross domestic product per capita per year

Rang 9 von 191

Rang 9 von 191

Human Development Index

With around 11.4 million hectares, almost one third of Germany's land area is covered in forest (BMEL, 2021). One hectare of forest absorbs about 6 tonnes of CO2. Overall, the German forest removes around 62 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere every year and thus compensates for around 7% of German emissions (BMEL, 2017).