Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, whose weekly school strikes for the climate sparked a global youth movement, on Thursday, August 20, 2020 met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin to discuss ways to mitigate climate change.
Thunberg, 17, was joined by other members of “Fridays for Future”, including Luisa Neubauer, the 24-year-old face of the protest movement’s Germany branch.
Merkel is hosting the activists at her chancellery for what her spokesman Steffen Seibert described as an “informal exchange” on climate issues of national and global importance.
Germany currently holds the rotating EU presidency and has vowed to make climate policy a central focus of its tenure.
However, Thunberg and her fellow activists slammed European leaders’ “political inaction” on the crisis before the meeting.
The campaigners were greeted outside the chancellery in Berlin by around 20 supporters, who held signs demanding action from politicians and chanted “you are robbing us of our future.”
The activists are expected to hand Merkel an open letter signed by 125,000 people demanding tougher action from EU leaders, including a halt on fossil fuel investments and subsidies.
It was exactly two years ago that Thunberg staged her first school strike for climate. She has since become a global figurehead of calls for radical action in the face of climate change.
She was however, named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” in 2019, four years after Merkel.
The 66-year-old stateswoman does not plan to address the press after the meeting, scheduled to last around 90 minutes.
Thunberg, Neubauer and two other young women campaigning for climate action, Anuna Wever and Adelaide Charlier from Belgium, are planning a press conference immediately, in which they are unlikely to be satisfied with Merkel’s pragmatism on the issue.
Germany is in lockstep with the European Commission’s proposal to increase the EU’s 2030 target on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, from 50 to 55 per cent compared with 1990 levels.
However, the climate activists slammed even this more ambitious goal as insufficient.
Germany’s plan to phase out coal by 2038 has also been criticised as too slow.
Ahead of the talks, Merkel said she expects “a constructive exchange.”
“I think we will have to wait and see which concrete results we take away from it,” she said.