Anna is the International Secretary in the National Board of the Green Youth in Germany. Her main political interests are fighting the climate crisis, overcoming gender inequalities and all other forms of discrimination and pushing for a European Union that puts social values first.
You have been engaged in national and international politics for a few years now. Where does your interest in politics and especially the elections to the European Parliament come from? What is your main motivation?
I grew up living close to the French border and I went to a french-german school. For me any issue (included of course political issues) didn’t stop at a countries border. I started being active at the age of 13 in the anti-nuclear movement. I went to marches against Fessenheim, a nuclear power plant in the South-West of Germany. After I spend one year as an exchange student in Ohio, USA, where you literally needed a car, anywhere you wanted to go I decided to join the Green Youth. That was when I was 16.
The Green Youth gave me the possibility to meet people all over in Germany but also European wide that have the same visions for a better future. I started being active on an international level, working close with Young Greens from Norway to Turkey, organized international political exchanges and represented the young greens on an European level at our assemblies. Growing together as a movement makes you stronger, exchanging best practices from other countries, where we all fight the same problems like the climate crisis, social injustice or discrimination gives you a lot of motivation and empowerment, because you experience that you are not alone and people out there all over Europe fight next you.
My central issue right now is the climate crisis and the nationalist backlash which we are all experiencing in the European Union. I grew up in an EU that gave me the chance to experience the European spirit on a daily basis by just going to school or hanging out with my French friends after school. I had the chance to study in Copenhagen and I don’t want any nationalist politician to succeed with populist rhetoric and uninformed denials about the human made climate crisis. Therefore, solutions must always be thought internationally and a going back to give nations more political power cannot be the answer in the 21st century, since the climate crisis just doesn’t stop at a nation’s border. The clock is ticking and we are the generation that has the power and the duty to stop the climate crisis. Solutions for a world with zero emissions are already on the table for a long time, we just have to implement them now.
As International Secretary in the National Board of Grüne Jugend you co-designed the campaign of Grüne Jugend for the elections to the European Parliament. What are the “hot” topics regarding climate change in the upcoming elections?
In our campaign we want to show that we will not discuss about whether coal is a good energy source or not. It is clear that climate crisis is already destroying places all over the world and that coal is an energy source that has no future at all. We are fighting for a European coal exit by 2030 and a complete energy transition to renewable energies. CO2 should also cost what it destroys. Way to long, politicians thought that the Emissions-Trading could really stop the climate crisis, but that’s not true. We need a price for CO2, the Fridays for Future – movement wants 180€ /t CO2 we support this and will also push for a CO2 price during the next legislature. But we should also keep in mind that we need to build social programs for the low-wage earners. With a price for CO2, we need a social redistribution at the same time, so that low-wage earners are not excluded from society or consumption. Additionally, we want to enable a future of mobility that doesn’t harm the climate. Kerosene, the fuel for airplanes is still subsidized. This is ridiculous since it is the worst mode of transportation for the climate. We want to stop the subsidies for kerosene and put those subsidies in inter-european train connections and we will fight for night trains coming back on track. Taking the train to travel in Europe should be more comfortable, faster and cheaper for everyone.
It is clear, that the climate crisis is not waiting and we will not be watching how our future is burnt in coal-fired power plants. With our campaign we want to mobilize the youth all over Germany and Europe that got politized by the Fridays for Future Movement. We want to show that these upcoming elections are elections about the climate. We need as many people as possible on board to fight with us together and to put pressure on the European Parliament because that’s where the next decisions on the big agricultural subsidies but also on the European coal exit, as well as a mobility strategy are on the agenda of the next legislature.
When we started designing the campaign, we couldn’t even imagine how strong the climate strike movement would get. We are convinced that all those well informed young people are shifting public attention which we have all been waiting. Change is coming soon, depending on your democratic choice!
What should young people keep in mind while making their decision in the election?
I just wish that young people think about how they want their future EU to look like. How do young people want to fight the climate crisis during the next legislature? Do they want politicians in this parliament that value the planet and see the solutions for a transition to renewable energies or do they want climate change deniers and inactive politicians in this parliament. Although this election is urgent for the climate it is also important to not leave other political aspects like migration or social policies beside. Do they want a European Union that protects human rights? Do they want an EU that values each human life the same, also the lives of people that came here under horrible conditions on inflatable boats. Do they want an EU that also transforms into a Union for social and criminal justice, that helps young people to find a paid work or an internship that actually values your work and won’t bring you financial insecurities?
I am sure if young people have a clear vision in their mind how they want their EU to look like, they will make a good decision this upcoming election.
In your opinion is giving a vote enough?
Indeed giving a vote is only a first step in political work, but we should not underestimate it. Some people just don’t have the time to get politically involved because of financial or social pressure. But if you have the time to do so and something bothers you, don’t wait for the change but be the change yourself. If you have the feeling that your city needs to change, that you want more biking lanes in your city or that you want to fight inequalities, discrimination and sexism, start something or find an organization that already fights for your cause. (Political) engagement can be a lot of fun and the empowerment you will receive from your fellow activists is the best thing while fighting for a better world.
Thank you for the interview!