Foreign PolicyForeign Policy

Europe’s climate movement is radicalizing in real time

By Paul Hockenos

10 Feb 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

The Greens have long been considered Germany's primary party for environmentalists. But as the FP reports, young climate activists are splitting up with the party for not being green enough.

Along the five city blocks that border the western edge of Friedrichshain park in Berlin, every campaign poster advertising the German Greens was torn down—only to be replaced and then torn down again. In neighboring districts, one placard after another has been vandalized, often with the eyes of Greens frontperson Bettina Jarasch blacked out. On the backside of one roadside billboard is scrawled Aus grün wird braun (“Green is becoming brown”), implying that the Greens are undergoing an extreme-right transformation—brown being the color traditionally associated with the World War II-era Nazis.

In the past, it was largely the far right itself that trashed the campaign materials of Berlin’s leftist parties. But Green officials are certain that today much of the stepped-up vandalism and graffiti is the work of an ever more radical climate movement that is deeply disillusioned with the Greens’ compromises. This disaffection could well chip away at the party’s vote count in the Feb. 12 election in Berlin, where the Greens under Jarasch are the center of a leftist city government of Social Democrats, Greens, and the democratic socialist Left party. More critically, it portends a nationwide—and possibly Europe-wide—break between the grassroots climate movement and the Greens, which have written climate protection on their banners since the late 1980s.

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