This pragmatism was on full display during Europe’s energy crisis, when Habeck was forced to accept uncomfortable compromises. When Russia cut gas supplies to Germany, Habeck ordered the country’s coal stations to come back online. When utility company RWE asked to extract coal from underground in the western German village of Lützerath, Habeck agreed, arguing it was necessary to keep Germany powered. In return, RWE must phase out coal use by 2030, eight years ahead of schedule.
Activists don’t think that’s worth the compromise. “I was shocked,” said Theo Schnarr, a Ph.D. student and environmental activist in Greifswald. “There’s enough coal in the region to burn all of our CO2 by itself2 Budget. ” After watching Lützerath’s video, Schnell said he understood their frustration. It shows a lot of points in a clear way,” he said. “Policymakers don’t make decisions for the people, they make decisions for the industry. “
The 32-year-old is one of a growing number of activists who have glued themselves to roads across the country, sparking controversy and miles of traffic jams. He had only been an environmental activist for a year before he was jailed for 10 days for blocking a road. “We are protesting that our government is not equipped to deal with this crisis,” Schnell said. He was a member of the environmental group Last Generation, which was formed in Germany around the same time the Green Party came into government. “Scientists tell us we have about three years to take effective action,” Schnell said. That means he sees the current government in power as the country’s last chance to act.
Daniel Saldivia Gonzati, a protest researcher at the Center for Social Sciences in Berlin, said environmental groups typically responded aggressively when the Green Party entered government. “The last generation [protest group] It’s a by-product of the Greens’ success in getting into government, because now only radical environmental movements like theirs are actually able to push a radical environmental agenda further. “
Since the Finnish Green Party became the first European Green party to enter a European government in 1995, the Green Party has transformed from radical outsider to mainstay of government. They are now united in six EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Finland, Germany, the Republic of Ireland and Luxembourg.
“The Greens appear to be increasingly common in European politics as important coalition partners,” said Mitia Pearson, who studies environmental politics at King’s College London. Germany’s green politicians aren’t the only ones being forced to make decisions that alienate environmentalists. Austria’s green energy minister, Leonore Gewessler, also proposed coal instead of Russian gas to survive the winter, but the proposal was broadly rejected by parliament. Traffic in Vienna also came to a standstill in January, with activists blocking roads for two weeks, threatening more protests if the government did not do more to tackle the climate crisis.
Tensions between the Greens and activists are likely to continue to be a feature of the Green coalition across Europe, Pearson said. “The question is how pragmatically [activists] They are willing to do that,” he said. “Will the Greens tolerate some pragmatic decisions on energy policy if they can show that they are accelerating climate policy in other ways? “
Activist Draysen said he was not opposed to a compromise, but he opposed the party’s backroom deals with fossil fuel companies. “The main problem is that we don’t have a green opposition,” he said. Without it, activists will fulfill that role themselves, meaning climate protests are likely to intensify, not decrease, under a Green government. Gonzatti said the role of the protesters is to keep pushing. “The environmental movement will never say, well, that’s great, that’s enough.”
This article first appeared in the May/June 2023 edition of WIRED UK