Writing on Twitter on Sunday evening, Luisa Neubauer, a lead organiser in the German Fridays for Future movement, said that Scholz’s words had left her “speechless”.
“Where do you start? The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany plays down Nazi rule in just one half-sentence, and paradoxically the climate crisis at the same time,” she wrote. “He presents climate protection as an ideology with parallels to Nazi rule. In 2022. Jesus. This is such a scandal.”
Scholz had been speaking at a Catholic Day event on Friday as demonstrators entered and caused a commotion. One activist reportedly tried to get up on stage but their path was blocked by security staff.
Another activist shouted “bullshit” loudly when Scholz was talking about the phase-out of coal-fired power generation and the jobs that would be lost in open-cast mining as a result.
In response to the disruption, the chancellor said: “I’ll be honest, these black-clad displays at various events by the same people over and over reminds me of a time that, thank god, is long behind us.”
He went on to accuse the demonstrators of a “practised performance” and said they were attempting to manipulate the event for their own purposes.
“You shouldn’t do that,” he added, to applause from the audience.
This clip of Germany's Scholz — in which he reacts to being interrupted by climate activists with a comment comparing them to "black-clad" figures from a "time that is, thank God, long gone by" — is going viral this morning, with many taking it as a Nazi comparison https://t.co/KCz62dLleB
— Zia Weise (@ZiaWeise) May 30, 2022
In a long Twitter thread, Neubauer pointed out that more than 100,000 jobs had been lost “through the energy policies of the CDU and also the SPD over the last decades” – presumably referring to jobs in the renewable energies sector.
“Fossil jobs under powerful lobbies obviously count more than other jobs for certain parties,” she said.
Some commentators also responded angrily to the fact that Spiegel had run with a headline that suggested Neubauer was “accusing” Scholz of the Nazi comparison.
However, Berlin’s Tagesspiegel newspaper pointed out that his words could also be understood as a reference to the radicalised student activist groups of the 1970s – an era that Scholz experienced, at least in part.
Scholz manages to be so ambiguous that half of German Twitter is outraged at Scholz comparing climate activists to Nazis, while the other half is outraged by them accusing him of comparing them to Nazis, with both saying no one should tak about Nazis and I’m like “I’m out” https://t.co/OargVNrzNF
— Giulio Mattioli (@giulio_mattioli) May 30, 2022
As of Monday, Scholz had not clarified his statements.
Global warming of 1.5C ‘by 2026’
UN meteorologists recently warned the world could reach temperatures of 1.5C higher than pre-industralised levels by 2026, exceeding the upper limit laid out in the Paris Agreement and causing significant damage to our ecosystem.
Germany – a major polluter within the European Union – is currently set to miss its climate targets.
Activists have accused its governing coalition of being too unambitious in its energy transition goals and of indirectly funding the war in Ukraine through its reliance on fossil fuels from Russia.
- ANALYSIS: How badly would a Russian gas embargo hurt ordinary Germans?
- How climate change is threatening Germany’s forests
The coalition of the Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Free Democrats (FDP) says it wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045 and generate 80 percent of its energy through renewable sources by 2030.
It has also set its sights on a coal phase-out by 2030, though this is carefully worded in the coalition pact to suggest that it will only be done “if possible”.
Meanwhile, young environmentalists are fighting for the government to adopt a strict CO2 budget.
They also demand a binding coal phase-out by 2030, a ban on the installation of fossil combustion engines from 2025 and an immediate stop to the construction and expansion of motorways and federal roads.