Campaigners press for next German leader to act on climate

Greenpeace activists hanging a large banner reading “Climate Chancellor wanted!” at Berlin’s main train station in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Sept. 17, 2021. German voters elect a new parliament on Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. (Annette Riedl/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — Environmental campaigners pressed Friday for Germany's next chancellor to take strong action against climate change, including by bringing forward the country's coal phase-out and banning new gasoline vehicles from 2025.

With 9 days to go before the German election, Greenpeace activists unfurled a three-story banner on Berlin's main train station designed as a vacancy ad seeking a new “climate chancellor.”

Outgoing German leader Angela Merkel was herself at times known as the “climate chancellor,” but has come under criticism from campaigners for shying away from measures that might hurt powerful interest groups such as Germany's auto industry.

The Greenpeace ad also urges the next chancellor to put Germany on course for 100% renewable energy by 2035.

Polls show that climate change is the most important issue for voters going into the Sept. 26 election, but many voters are wary of the possible costs of the large-scale changes required for the country to become carbon neutral.

Three candidates are hoping to succeed Merkel as chancellor: her Union bloc's nominee Armin Laschet; her deputy Olaf Scholz of the Social Democrats; and Green party candidate Annalena Baerbock.

Youth campaigners including Swedish activist Greta Thunberg plan to stage protests in cities across Germany next Friday, two days before the election.

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Follow AP’s coverage of Germany’s election at https://apnews.com/hub/germany-election

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