German Chancellor Angela Merkel threw her support behind young people who have skipped school to protest political inaction about climate change.
‘I very much support students taking to the streets for climate action and fighting for it,’ Merkel said in her weekly video podcast, released on Saturday.
Pupils across the globe have been holding ‘Fridays for the Future’ rallies. The movement calls on students to walk out of school and demonstrate in support of climate change action.
In the northern German port city of Hamburg, 3,000 students rallied on Friday. Sixteen-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, who has led the wave of youth climate protests, was in attendance.
Merkel, however, did not endorse all of the demands being made by the protesters.
‘I know that the students want some things more quickly, for example phasing out coal,’ she said. ‘We need to balance jobs and economic strength on the one hand, with the goals of climate protection.’ In January a government commission agreed that Germany will stop burning coal to produce energy by the end of 2038.
‘It may seem like a very long time from the perspective of the students,’ Merkel said of the deadline two decades in the future. ‘But it will be very challenging for us, and that's what I'm asking for understanding on, too.’