Home Europe Time is running out: who are the climate activists sounding the alarm?

Time is running out: who are the climate activists sounding the alarm?

by editor

Soup on a Van Gogh, hands glued to roads, mashed potatoes on a Monet painting. Europe’s climate activists have been adopting more extreme tactics.

Our reporter Hans von der Brelie met them to find out why.

Extinction Rebellion. Lyon, France.

The first of Hans’ meetings is with the climate group Extinction Rebellion, that has branches across 75 nations.

The meeting point is communicated at the last minute. Once there, Hans learns that the activists are planning to break into a chemical plant in Lyon, Arkema. Last year, journalists discovered that the company had been releasing harmful chemicals into the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Vigo, one of the rare activists who agrees to be filmed, says he is willing to take risks for social change, but still supports democracy:

‘Democracy is the backbone of society. It would be difficult to live without it. But the current government is hindering the situation (climate action).’

Last Generation. Lützerath, Germany.

The next stop is Lützerath, where climate activists have gathered to stop the expansion of a coal mine.

To prevent workers from accessing the mine, members of Last Generation block a road by glueing their hands to the tarmac.

Our reporter interviews one of them, Joel, who has already spent time in prison for blockading roads.

He points to the ruling of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court, which condemned the government for climate inaction in 2021.

Brandalism. Brussels, Belgium.

Tona and Gingko work with the group Brandalism.

Brandalism fights against the promotion of environmentally harmful products.

Hans accompanies them as they hijack billboards, pasting their own images over adverts.

Targeting companies like Toyota and BMW, one of their billboards reads: ‘Advertising for the end of times’.

They believe they have a democratic duty to act.

Tona explains: ‘The rights to vote for women, the rights to a weekend, the rights to form a trade union. All of these social wins were achieved by using direct action…’

Dernière Rénovation. Paris, France.

Our journey ends with Sébastien, a member of Dernière Rénovation.

After dabbling in the world of politics, Sébastien became frustrated by government inaction.

Hans films as Sébastien sprays the Ministry of Ecological Transition in Paris with bright orange paint.

He shouts: ‘Who are the guilty ones? The government is acting illegally. […] Our paint will wash away, but the blood will stay on their hands’.

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