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Climate crisis: Greta Thunberg and other young activists meet Angela Merkel to demand action two years on from first school strike

Teenagers accuse world leaders of ‘giving up without trying’ to meet goals of Paris climate agreement

Harry Cockburn
Thursday 20 August 2020 13:18 BST
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Greta Thunberg addresses an audience including German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on 20 August 2020
Greta Thunberg addresses an audience including German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on 20 August 2020 (AFP/Getty)

Leading young climate activists including Greta Thunberg met with Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday to demand tougher action to fight the climate crisis and environmental breakdown.

Two years after the Swedish teenager began her world famous school strike on her own outside the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, she accused world leaders of two years of political inaction.

Ms Thunberg, along with Luisa Neubauer from Germany and Anuna de Wever van der Heyden and Adelaide Charlier, both from Belgium, arrived at the chancellery for a 90-minute meeting, the first high-profile talks the youth activists have held with a world leader since the start of the pandemic.

Arriving at the meeting in Berlin, the activists and their supporters chanted: “We are here, we are loud, because our future's being stolen,” as Ms Thunberg was mobbed by photographers.

The coronavirus outbreak has prevented the Fridays for Future movement Ms Thunberg inspired from holding its mass rallies in recent months.

The activists have repeatedly warned governments around the world are doing too far too little to curb emissions of the greenhouse gases heating up the atmosphere.

In a joint statement published in The Guardian on Wednesday, they accused world leaders of “giving up without even trying” to hit the emissions targets set out in the Paris climate agreement.

“We need to end the ongoing wrecking, exploitation and destruction of our life support systems and move towards a fully decarbonised economy that is centred on the wellbeing of all people, democracy and the natural world,” they said.

And in a letter sent to world leaders last month, Ms Thunberg and other activists called for measures including ending financing for oil and gas projects and setting binding annual carbon budgets.

Ms Merkel's spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said the German government recently agreed to to cut emissions by up to 55 per cent over the coming decade compared with 1990 levels.

It also backs plans for an EU Green Deal and for making Europe the first “climate neutral” continent by 2050.

“The subject [of climate change] is an issue of central importance for the entire German government,” Ms Demmer said.

“As such, an exchange with [the activists] is certainly beneficial.”

Germany currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union. Ms Merkel has in the past lauded the youth activists for putting pressure on politicians to act against global warming.

Additional reporting by agencies

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