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#EP2019: Interview with Anna Peters, International Secretary of the Green Youth in Germany

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!

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