BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday sharply criticized climate activists as “nutty” for drastic protests such as blocking streets or gluing themselves to famous paintings in museums.
“I think it’s completely nutty to somehow stick yourself to a painting or on the street,” Scholz said during a visit to an elementary school in the town of Kleinmachnow outside of Berlin, German news agency dpa reported.
The chancellor added that he did not think anybody’s opinion on climate change could be changed by such actions but rather that these protests made people angry.
“That’s an action that I don’t think is going to help,” Scholz told the students.
Members of the group Last Generation have repeatedly blocked roads across Germany in an effort to pressure the government to take more drastic action against climate change.
In recent weeks, they’ve brought the traffic to a halt on an almost daily basis in Berlin, gluing themselves to busy junctions and highways. They’ve also glued themselves to various paintings in Berlin and elsewhere over the past year.
The group responded angrily to Scholz’s remarks, accusing him of ignoring the risk that global warming poses to young people.
“How dare you stand in front of children whose future you are currently destroying and say that you think the protests against your destructive policies are ‘completely nutty?'” it said.
The group urged Scholz and his government to do more to combat climate change.
While some people support the protesters’ fight for climate protection, others — especially angry drivers stuck in traffic — have tried to pull the activists off the roads using violence, even though officials have warned motorists repeatedly not to engage in vigilantism.
Last Generation wants Germany to stop using all fossil fuels by 2030 and take short-term measures including the imposition of a general speed limit of 100 kilometers per hour (62 mph) on highways as a way of cutting transport emissions.
While Scholz expressed criticism on Monday of the way activists draw attention to global warming, his government insists it is committed to transforming Germany’s economy to be greener and more climate-friendly.
The German government insists that protecting the climate is one of its central concerns. It has said it wants to slash greenhouse gas emissions by at least 65% from 1990 levels by 2030 and has plans in place to sharply boost renewable energy production while phasing out fossil fuels.