11 Jan 2021, 13:51
Charlotte Nijhuis

Pandemic turns Fridays for Future activists into lobbyists

Die Zeit

Since the start of the pandemic, climate activists from Fridays for Future have shied away from organising mass demonstrations and turned to soft lobbying instead, Nele Spandick writes in Die Zeit. Before the crisis, the young climate activists had succeeded in mobilising many people for street protests in Germany to demand more climate action. "Our organisation thrives on the fact that many people have recognised the climate crisis as the decisive crisis of our time," said “front woman” Luisa Neubauer in a video call with Die Zeit. However, with a new crisis on the public’s mind, priorities have changed, writes Die Zeit. Since the pandemic, Fridays for Future has been active mostly in the background: they criticised the economic stimulus packages, the deforestation of the Dannenröder Forest and the EU agricultural reform, Die Zeit writes. The activists also met with Chancellor Angela Merkel and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and their communication with the conservatives in parliament has also improved. "We had more intensive and personal contact," Anja Weisgerber, CSU member of parliament and climate policy spokeswoman for the CDU/CSU parliamentary group, told Die Zeit. "Before, it was a lot about confrontation, now we've come to a substantive discussion with each other via digital platforms,” Weisgerber explained.

In the run-up to the federal elections this year, the Fridays for Future activists have been organising many smaller-scale protests to push climate action to the top of the political agenda. Some youth climate activists have decided to run for seats in parliament with the Green party, leading to splits within the movement.

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