German voters see climate as biggest EU challenge

Voters in Germany want their elected representatives in Europe to tackle the environment more than any other issue. In a new survey spanning eight countries, migration was seen as the most pressing challenge overall.

German voters see the environment as the No. 1 issue facing the EU ahead of European elections later this month, according to a poll published early Monday. From a list of 16 topics, 34% of respondents said protecting the planet from climate change was their top priority.

The second most pressing issue was migration, highlighting a debate that has preoccupied the bloc especially since the large-scale arrival of asylum-seekers in 2015, resulting in several different policy factions across the 28 member states.

With all eight countries taken into account, migration was in first place as the biggest challenge, with environment and climate protection in second.

Climate protests: Extinction Rebellion gets creative

Save Mother Earth!

Beginning April 15, protesters with Extinction Rebellion took to the streets of London and other cities to demand governments declare a climate and ecological emergency. They occupied key spots in the city, calling on those in charge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2025, halt biodiversity loss and set up citizens' assemblies on climate and ecological justice.

Climate protests: Extinction Rebellion gets creative

Creative protests

Extinction Rebellion, founded last year by academics in the United Kingdom, is one of the world's fastest-growing environmental movements. Their aim is to protest climate change inaction in a creative and nonviolent way. Demonstrators say people are causing their own mass extinction, which is the basis of their "rebellion."

Climate protests: Extinction Rebellion gets creative

Royal support?

Harry and Meghan, the duke and duchess of Sussex, didn't exactly take part in the sit-in on London's Waterloo Bridge on April 18. The royals are expecting and protesters used the happy event in their demonstration, having the couple "thank" Extinction Rebellion for saving their child's future.

Climate protests: Extinction Rebellion gets creative

Stuck to the train

Activists have used a variety of unusual protest methods to draw maximum attention and get their point across. Throughout the week, they've blocked traffic, climbed atop buses and superglued themselves to buildings and, in the case of this young man at London's Canary Wharf station on April 17, trains.

Climate protests: Extinction Rebellion gets creative

Civil disobedience

The goal of the protests is to temporarily disrupt everyday life. As a result, police have arrested more than 800 people in London alone. Activists want to get the public on their side, but a YouGov survey showed that just 36% of more than 3,500 British polled support the protest, with 52% against.

Climate protests: Extinction Rebellion gets creative

Naked truth

Extinction Rebellion protesters first attracted global attention on April 1, during yet another heated Brexit debate in the British Parliament. A group of semi-naked activists revealed themselves in the visitor gallery with slogans including "SOS" and "Stop Wasting Time" written on their bodies, with some gluing their hands to a glass barrier. The scene was quickly broken up my security.

Climate protests: Extinction Rebellion gets creative

Global movement

The Extinction Rebellion protests got their start in London, but the movement has also spread to other major cities around the world. On April 15, these activists on the Oberbaum Bridge in Berlin blocked traffic for hours.

Climate protests: Extinction Rebellion gets creative

Switching tactics?

On April 21, organizers in London said they were willing to switch tactics and talk with the government. "We're giving them an opportunity now to come and speak to us," said spokesman James Fox. "If they refuse … then this is going to continue and this going to escalate in different, diverse and very creative ways."

Leader no more?

Although Germany was once seen as a leader in environmental protection action, that reputation has been somewhat diminished in recent years as the government has focused on immigration and the economy.

High-profile decisions such as massive destruction of one of the country's oldest woodlands, the Hambach Forest, to make way for coal interests, has further damaged the country's image.

The poll was carried out by research firm YouGov for Germany's Welt newspaper and seven other media outlets that are part of the Leading Newspaper Alliance (LENA). It surveyed 8,000 EU citizens from eight different countries.

The majority of respondents from all eight countries agreed that EU membership was a good thing for their respective nations – but the highest rate of approval came from Germans and Poles, where about 70% of voters agreed that their country should stay in the group.

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DW News | 12.05.2019

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