Merkel meeting with Thunberg must be more than symbolic act - activists
dpa / die Welt / taz
Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel will meet with climate activists including Greta Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer on Thursday (20 August) to discuss climate policy, dpa reports in an article carried by TAZ. The meeting comes as Germany holds the EU Council Presidency, which the country has said it will use to pursue climate protection policies. Belgian activists Anuna de Wever and Adélaïde Charliér are also expected to attend. Activists see the 90-minute meeting as a positive sign, but are calling for it to be followed by concrete action. “Whether it is more than just a symbolic act will become clear if the Chancellor throws her political weight into the balance for a higher EU climate target,” BUND managing director Antje von Broock told dpa. The meeting will coincide with the two-year anniversary of Thunberg’s demonstration at the Swedish parliament calling for tougher climate action, which led to the Fridays for Future movement.
Fridays for Future has been suffering setbacks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Die Welt reports in a separate article on the meeting. The report notes that around 124,000 people signed the “Face the Climate Emergency” open letter to the EU and global leaders. But last September one climate protest in Berlin alone drew 270,000 people. Online activism has drawn notably less interest, the report argues, citing a survey that showed only six percent of teenagers had taken part in an online strike, compared to nearly a third who had been to a physical Fridays for Future demonstration. Some 36 percent said they were not interested in the topic, up five percent since the start of the pandemic.
Fridays for Future, which is driven in large part by school students, is planning to hold a “global climate action day” on 25 September, with protests in hundreds of German cities. It moved its protests online in March due to the coronavirus lockdown measures, after having previously mobilised one of the largest civil society protests ever in Germany in September 2019.