Greta Thunberg pokes German politicians to up their game on climate

'Germany is objectively one of the biggest climate villains,' the activist said ahead of Sunday's election.

Greta Thunberg pokes German politicians to up their game on climate

BERLIN — No German political party has a credible manifesto to fight climate change, said activist Greta Thunberg, ahead of a tightly fought general election Sunday.

The Swedish activist, who began a worldwide youth climate movement with her Friday school strikes, is in Berlin for the final days of campaigning. The strikes restarted this week after a prolonged hiatus due to the pandemic.

“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 aligned with what would be needed to fulfill the Paris Agreement,” Thunberg said in a speech to thousands of cheering climate strikers in front of the Bundestag.

Her remarks are particularly awkward for the Greens, who argue they are the only party in the German election race that takes climate change seriously. Their chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock even attended a climate strike in Cologne on Friday.

“The election on Sunday is a climate election. Just like in Cologne, tens of thousands of children, adolescents and people of all ages across Germany attend [climate strikes], take to the streets and make it clear: They want a new departure because they know that our future is at stake,” Baerbock said on Twitter, posting a picture of herself in Cologne.

Had she attended the Berlin strike, it would have been hard for Baerbock to depict herself as siding with the protesters, given Thunberg’s frank rejection of the climate proposals put forward by all parties, including her own.

Thunberg’s criticism was based on a study published earlier this month by the German Institute for Economic Research that found that of the parties currently represented in the Bundestag, none is ambitious enough to keep the global temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Last week, the Greens’ co-leader Robert Habeck acknowledged that his party’s plans would not be enough to reach the goal, but insisted that they come closer than the other parties.

Either way, Thunberg showed no mercy in her typically uncompromising speech. “If you look at the different parties’ climate policies and compare them to the CO2 budget provided by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] … you can see that there’s a huge gap,” she said though she added that didn’t mean people should refrain from voting.

“Voting is essential but alone it is not enough — if we want to ensure we have a future on planet earth we need to be active democratic citizens and go out on the streets like we are doing today,” she said.

Thanking Berliners — in German — for having shown up in such large numbers, Thunberg also singled out Germany as “objectively one of the biggest climate villains,” which she said was “quite an achievement … for a nation of about 80 million people.”

Merlin Sugue contributed reporting.