BERLIN (AP) — After three-and-a-half weeks on a hunger strike, Henning Jeschke is frail and gaunt, but determined to go on, still hoping to pressure the three candidates for chancellor of Germany into meeting him for a debate about the climate crisis ahead of Sunday’s general election.
For the first time in Germany, climate change is perhaps the most dominant issue in an election campaign, especially for young voters. It’s at the center of televised debates among candidates, and five of the six main parties offer plans with varying degrees of detail for slowing global warming.
But young climate activists — who pitched a protest tent camp in a park in Berlin’s government district last month — fear politicians’ promises will quickly dissipate after the vote or give way to pressure from special interests. Jeschke and six others launched a hunger strike Aug. 30.
By late Thursday, Jeschke was the only one from the original group to remain on a hunger strike, even doubling down by now also refusing liquids, a protest organizer said. The others had dropped out, most this week, amid appeals from politicians and public figures not to endanger their lives.
Jeschke said Wednesday that he was not ready to give in. He was resting on a mattress in the center of the camp, propped up on one elbow and taking occasional sips of tea.
The hunger strike is an act of despair, he said, because he and his fellow activists believe that “in this time of climate collapse, there are no honest conversations, that party programs are insufficient and that we urgently need to take action against the climate catastrophe.”
The 21-year-old from the northeastern town of Greifswald, who quit his political science studies for full-time activism, has already lost 24 pounds and said his parents are worried.