Thunberg, Luisa Neubauer from Germany and Belgians Anuna de Wever van der Heyden and Adélaïde Charlier were accompanied by a handful of climate protesters as they arrived at the chancellery for a 90-minute meeting early on Thursday, the first high-profile talks the youth activists have held with a world leader since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The 17-year-old shot to fame after starting her solo protests outside the Swedish parliament two years ago. Students around the world began following her lead and staging regular large protests. Thunberg spoke to political and business leaders at U.N. conferences and the annual World Economic Forum in Davos.
But the coronavirus outbreak has prevented the Fridays for Future movement that Thunberg inspired from holding it’s mass rallies in recent months, sending it’s public profile tanking.
It’s time to #FaceTheClimateEmergency
This is our open letter and demands to global leaders, signed by thousands of activists, scientists, representatives of civil society influencers.
We’ll keep collecting signatures and urge everyone to sign & share
— Greta Thunberg (@GretaThunberg) July 16, 2020
Why Angela Merkel?
The activists sought a meeting with the German leader because Germany currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union. Which together with Britain accounts for 22% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions. Merkel has in the past lauded the youth activists for putting pressure on politicians to act against global warming.
Climate campaigners argue that governments around the world are doing too little to curb the emissions. These emissions are heating up the atmosphere. In a letter sent to world leaders last month, Greta Thunberg and others called for numerous measures. These measures included ending financing for oil and gas projects and setting binding annual carbon budgets.
Merkel’s spokeswoman, Ulrike Demmer, said Wednesday that the German government recently agreed to to cut emissions by up to 55%. This will happen 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,” Demmer said. “As such, an exchange with (the activists) is certainly beneficial.”
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