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Germany: Third man joins climate hunger strike in Berlin

April 16, 2024

Three men are now camped outside the office of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to demand more "honesty on the climate catastrophe." The government has denounced what it called a "radical" form of protest.

Hunger strike signs in Berlin near chancellor's office
Three men are engaging a hunger strike to demand that Germany's government be more "honest" on the impacts of climate changeImage: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa/picture alliance

A third man joined a weekslong hunger strike near the office of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Berlin on Tuesday.

The "Starve until you are honest" campaign is demanding that Scholz show "honesty on the climate castastrophe."

Why are three people on a climate hunger strike in Berlin?

The activists are camped out in a tent near the Chancellery and are calling for Scholz's government to set a more radical course when it comes to fighting climate change. Scholz belongs to the Social Democrats (SPD), and his coalition also includes the Greens and the neoliberal Free Democrats (FDP).

Those on strike are calling on Scholz to issue a statement saying, "The continued existence of human civilization is extremely endangered by the climate crisis."

The campaign issued a statement saying that Michael Winter, a biologist from Garching in the southern state of Bavaria had joined the hunger strike.

Winter said he could not stand to see science being ignored by the government.

"That's why I've joined the hunger strike," he said.

According to the group, the first participant in the strike was 49-year-old Wolfgang Metzeler-Kick, who has not eaten for 40 days. The second man involved in the strike, Richard Cluse, 56, has not eaten for over three weeks.

"We are both engineers, we know what we're talking about," Metzeler-Kick and Cluse said on Tuesday. They argued that there is technology available that would allow Germany to become carbon-neutral and that only political will to implement it was lacking, criticizing what they saw as "ignoring [the problem], failure and lies" on the part of the government.

Metzeler-Kick claimed to have lost 18 kilograms (39.6 pounds) during the strike. He and Cluse are being treated by doctors.

It's not the first time climate activists went on a hunger strike. A group of teenagers called on politicians to commit to protecting the environment ahead of a federal election in 2021. Some of the participants in that hunger strike ended up requiring hospitalization. 

Government warns against 'radical' protest

The government has not entered into direct contact with the activists. Last week, government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit warned against "such radical forms of protest" that can damage one's health.

Hebestreit said Scholz would continue to implement his climate policy without following any concrete demands "no matter how emphatically they are brought before him."

"For us it sounds like the chancellor would prefer to let us die than to comment on this," Cluse said in response.

sdi/sms (dpa, EPD)

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