Germany urges climate activists not to ′endanger health′ | News | DW | 20.09.2021

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Germany urges climate activists not to 'endanger health'

Pro-climate activists have threatened to escalate their hunger strike, demanding to meet future chancellor candidates ahead of the German parliamentary election.

Climate activists pictured near a protest tent camp in Berlin

The protesters, aged from 18 to 27, are on an open-ended strike

The German government urged a group of climate activists who are on a weekslong hunger strike in Berlin not to endanger their health.

A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel made the comments on Monday after protesters, who are currently refusing to eat, also threatened to stop consuming liquids.

The activists have said they will continue striking until leading candidates running to replace Merkel after this week's election agree to discuss the climate crisis with them by Thursday evening.

Pressure mounts as election nears

The three candidates in question are Annalena Baerbock of the Greens, Armin Laschet of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) and Olaf Scholz of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD). The latter is currently leading election polls.

Watch video 01:54

Climate activists on hunger strike amid election

Climate change has been a central topic during Germany's election campaign, especially after the country was hit by devastating floods this summer

A poll commissioned by public broadcaster ZDF last month showed that climate change and the environment were the most pressing issue for 43% of respondents, putting it ahead of the coronavirus pandemic and migration.

German government spokesperson concerned

In response to the remarks, Merkel's spokesperson Steffen Seibert said that while climate change was an "immensely important" issue, discussions should take place in circumstances where "a side does not pose a risk to itself."

"Actions that endanger health, such as this hunger strike, such as the threat not to drink anymore, must be a cause for concern about the young people taking part,'' Seibert said.

Watch video 29:45

Flipping the Script: A different kind of climate debate

German news agency DPA said Seibert declined to comment on whether Merkel planned to intervene.

Thousands of climate activists, including prominent Swedish campaigner Greta Thunberg, are expected to take part in a protest in Berlin on Friday, two days before Germany elects a new parliament.

Several activists have already received medical treatment after collapsing during the hunger strike, which began in the capital on August 30.

All three candidates for the chancellorship have previously called for an end to the hunger strike, offering to meet the activists after the election.

go/dj (AP, dpa)