Climate activists need to stop being so smug if they hope to win over the average voter, a senior Green party minister has said. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)


‘Lose the moral superiority complex’, German Greens minister tells climate activists


Climate activists need to drop their moral superiority complex if they hope to win over the average voter, a senior German Greens party minister has said.

Robert Habeck, Germany’s Federal Vice-Chancellor and climate change minister, has criticised what he sees as superiority complexes held by many climate activists, arguing that campaigners need to be less self-satisfied if they wish to win over the public.

In an interview with The Guardian, Habeck argued that while such a demeanour was beneficial in the early days of the movement, allowing it to build a strong core, it has now become self-defeating.

Instead, he urged activists to focus on winning people over with strong arguments rather than moral browbeating.

“To survive as a grassroots movement you have to claim to have access to some higher form of truth that others don’t. Every small party has that tendency,” he said, with the interviewer describing him as telling activists to abandon all forms of “moral superiority complex”.

“But as we Greens are transitioning to something with a broader political appeal, we are working to have the better arguments instead.”

Habeck’s plea for “green” activists to tone down their superior approach is in keeping for the politician, who has been a frequent critic of the more radical elements within the climate-activist movement.

The Vice-Chancellor has been a particularly harsh critic of the Letzte Generation (Last Generation), an association of radical green activists mostly active in Germany, Italy and Austria who frequently glue themselves to roads and fossil-fuel infrastructure to protest against climate change.

The group’s disruption of major airports across Germany this summer appeared to particularly irritate Habeck, who accused Letzte Generation of trying to undermine the government’s attempts at green reform.

“The activists, who are now blocking people from going on vacation, are massively damaging the issue of climate protection,” he told local media in July.

“Anyone who really wants to campaign for climate protection must keep an eye on social acceptance … that’s how we should approach climate protection.”

The minister has seen his party collapse in the polls over the past 12 months, losing ground to both the centre-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the populist Alternative für Deutschland (AfD).