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German climate activists hit back at Scholz’s ‘Nazi’ comparison

Prominent activists in Germany have responded with fury after Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) appeared to link climate protesters with Nazis.

Luisa Neubauer Fridays for Future
Climate activist Luisa Neubauer at a Fridays for Future protest in Glasgow, Scotland. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christoph Soeder

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. 

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How the climate crisis is hitting Europe hard

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.

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. 

“Instead of ‘Climate activist Neubauer accuses Scholz of Nazi comparison’, it should read: ‘Scholz shocks with Nazi comparison’,” one journalist wrote, referring to the Spiegel headline

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. 

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. 

READ ALSO: 

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.

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POLITICS

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has sued the German parliament for removing some of his official post-retirement perks over his links to Russian energy giants, his lawyer said Friday.

Ex-chancellor Schröder sues German Bundestag for removing perks

Schröder, 78, has come under heavy criticism for his proximity to Russian President Vladimir Putin and involvement with state-backed energy companies.

The decision to suspend Schröder’s taxpayer-funded office and staff in May was “contrary to the rule of law”, Michael Nagel, told public broadcaster NDR.

Schröder “heard of everything through the media”, Nagel said, noting that the Social Democrat had asked for a hearing before the budget committee responsible but was not given the chance to express himself.

READ ALSO: Germany strips Schröder of official perks over Russia ties

Schröder’s lawyers filed the complaint with an administrative Berlin court, a spokesman for the court confirmed.

In its decision to strip him of the perks, the committee concluded that Schröder, who served as chancellor from 1998 to 2005, “no longer upholds the continuing obligations of his office”.

Most of Schröder’s office staff had already quit before the final ruling was made.

Despite resigning from the board of Russian oil company Rosneft and turning down a post on the supervisory board of gas giant Gazprom in May, Schröder has maintained close ties with the Kremlin.

The former chancellor met Putin in July, after which he said Moscow was ready for a “negotiated solution” to the war in Ukraine — comments branded as “disgusting” by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Last week, the Social Democrats concluded that Schröder would be allowed to remain a member after he was found not have breached party rules over his ties to the Russian President.

Schröder’s stance on the war and solo diplomacy has made him an embarrassment to the SPD, which is also the party of current Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

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