AfD targets Greta Thunberg in climate denial campaign

The Alternative fur Deutschland (AfD) has come out in favour of climate change denial, ridiculing the teenage Swedish activist Greta Thunberg as “mentally challenged”.

AfD is expected to launch a major attack on climate science in parliament today (Tuesday) supported by a climate change denial group linked to the US new right.

The event is being publicised by a German-based think tank, the European Institute for Climate and Energy (EIKE), with which all of the event’s speakers have an association. The think tank’s vice-president also advises Karsten Hilse, the AfD’s environmental spokesman.

The AfD has become more vocal on climate change since entering parliament in September 2017 and concentrated its opposition specifically on the 2015 diesel emissions scandal and plans to phase out lignite.

The emergence from last August of Thunberg at climate rallies across Europe, including in Germany, boosted the AfD’s desire to damage the environment.

A joint investigation by Greenpeace Unearthed and counter-extremism organisation the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) said the AfD mentioned climate change on its social media and other online channels about 300 times in 2017 and 2018. But that had tripled over the past year to more than 900. Thunberg was the main target, the NGOs reported.

AfD candidate Maximilian Krah called for Thunberg to seek treatment for her “psychosis”.

EIKE is known for its climate conference, which is co-sponsored by the Heartland Institute, a US think-tank which has long financed projects which challenge climate science, and the US Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow.

EIKE also shares an address with a linked organisation, CFACT Europe, which was set up by the EIKE president Holger Thuss.

The AfD’s Facebook page says she leads a climate cult with posts using terms such as “CO2Kult” (CO2 cult), “Klimawandelpanik” (climate change panic) and “Klimagehirnwäsche” (climate brainwashing).

ISD researcher Jakob Guhl said climate change denial had become key to the AfD’s campaign platform for the European elections this month. “The AfD has been denying human-made climate change on its social-media pages since 2016, and while it has not shifted its position it is clear that the party decided to communicate it more frequently.

“The fact that many mainstream politicians from across the political divide in Germany supported a 16-year-old female activist who was virtually unknown until a few months ago, allowed the party to present belief in climate change as irrational, hysteria, panic, cult-like or even as a replacement religion. Attacking Greta, at times in fairly vicious ways, including mocking her for her autism, became a way to portray the AfD’s political opponents as irrational.”

The AfD is in alliance with other populist parties ahead of the European elections. Picture credit: Wikimedia


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