Climate change: how far can protests go?

Blocked motorways, occupied universities and smeared paintings: all over the world, climate activists are looking for new ways to draw attention to the urgent need for action. Commentators view this with mixed feelings.

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Der Standard (AT) /

Unconvincing strategy

Activists in the Leopold Museum in Vienna doused the protective glass covering of a painting by Gustav Klimt with oil on Tuesday. For Der Standard, such strategies are ineffective:

Smearing a painting is never going to convince an SUV owner to switch to a bicycle. ... The rage of the Last Generation and other apocalyptic activists over the politicians' stalling, half-hearted pseudo climate measures is understandable. At the Climate Change Conference discussions are focusing on compensation for the countries of the Southern Hemisphere rather than stopping climate change itself. But there must be better ways to force politicians to take action than PR stunts against artworks that have been targeted because they're 'iconic'.”

Jornal de Notícias (PT) /

This marathon must be run together

Climate activists in Portugal have occupied universities and are demanding the resignation of the Minister of Economy, António Costa Silva, who previously worked as a top executive in the oil industry. Jornal de Notícias calls for moderation:

“It's clear that the younger generations have everything to lose if the climate summit fails, and that their voice must be heard. But proclaiming an end to fossil fuels is an illusion, like a newly crowned Miss Universe calling for world peace. It's a path that we must take step by step. The question is how quickly we do it. It can't be a 100-metre sprint, but a marathon that stretches over decades.” (DE) /

Even wild protest is constitutional

The CDU is calling for tougher penalties for climate activists who block road traffic in Germany. counters this:

“The Federal Constitutional Court has repeated it time and again ever since the sit-in blockades against the Brokdorf nuclear power plant: sitting on the street and blocking traffic is not violence and is covered by the freedom of assembly. [The court in] Karlsruhe thus explicitly protects the fierce, inconvenient, rabid nature of democratic protest. As mentioned before, when a wild outcry becomes more important to this protest than life and limb, then a line has been crossed and the criminal justice system comes into play. But peaceful climate protest is more justified and important than ever before.”