Thunberg tells Germans no party doing enough to tackle climate crisis

BERLIN • Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg told thousands of demonstrators in Berlin ahead of Germany's general election tomorrow that "no political party" was doing even nearly enough to fight the climate crisis.

Speaking at a rally yesterday in front of the Reichstag Parliament building, Ms Thunberg told cheering supporters they needed to keep up the pressure on Germany's political leaders past election day.

"It is clearer than ever that no political party is doing close to enough. But it's even worse than that. Not even their proposed commitments are close to being in line with what would be needed to fulfil the Paris Agreement" on curbing climate change, she said.

"Yes, we must vote, you must vote, but remember that voting only will not be enough. We must keep going into the streets."

As Germany's top parties were set to hold final rallies, the Fridays for Future youth movement said it was holding strikes in more than 400 German cities and towns.

At the largest event in Berlin, Ms Thunberg said the political class was failing younger generations.

"We need to become climate activists and demand real change because remember: Change is now not only possible, it is also urgently necessary," she said.

"When enough people demand change, then change will come on election day."

Outside Germany's Parliament, a group of activists have been on a hunger strike since Aug 30, bringing their demands for more action on climate change in person to the three candidates to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Now, two days before the election that will bring her time in office to a close, two of the activists, Mr Henning Jeschke - now wheelchair-bound and very gaunt - and Ms Lea Bonasera, have stepped up their campaign, announcing that they will no longer even drink water until their demands are heard.

The race has boiled down to a two-way contest between Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, the centrist Finance Minister, and Mr Armin Laschet from Dr Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats.

Polls give Mr Scholz a small lead, with about 26 per cent compared with Mr Laschet's 22 per cent. The candidate from the Greens, Ms Annalena Baerbock, trails in the mid-teens.

"To the activists in hunger strike I say: I will stick to the agreement and speak to them after the election," Mr Scholz wrote on Twitter yesterday. "But now they must save their own lives and stop."

Ms Thunberg stopped short of endorsing the Green Party, whose programme Fridays for Future activists argue falls short of what is needed to effectively curb global warming.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 25, 2021, with the headline 'Thunberg tells Germans no party doing enough to tackle climate crisis'. Subscribe