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Facts and Findings

Radicalisation as last resort?

by Tim Segler

The disorientation in the “climate fight” and the limits of activism in extremism

Climate activism in Germany is in a state of flux. Radicalisation tendencies and links with left-wing extremist elements are leading to political challenges. Groups that focus on confrontational actions are on the rise and climate activist offences are increasing. The link between climate activist groups and left-wing extremism is being monitored more closely by the security authorities. This change requires careful analysis and a differentiated approach in order to assess the potential threat to internal security accordingly.

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Climate activism in the Federal Republic of Germany is characterised by a diverse mix of different parties, non-governmental organisations and movements. While more established (environmental) organisations such as BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) are continuing their peaceful approaches of recent decades without major changes, newer groups such as Fridays for Future (FFF), Extinction Rebellion (XR) and the Last Generation (LG) are adopting more confrontational approaches of varying degrees. In the course of these developments, there has also been an increase in climate activist-motivated criminal offences, particularly in the form of disruptions, obstructions and occasional acts of sabotage. It is particularly noticeable that some activists with a left-wing extremist background have attempted to influence the climate activist scene. Furthermore, there is a dividing line between those groups that advocate non-violent civil disobedience and those that support more confrontational and disruptive tactics - with particular attention being paid to the potential for radicalisation in the latter case.

This text examines the complex interplay between climate activism, left-wing extremist ideas and the challenges faced by both movements. It discusses the changing strategies of climate activists, the polarising effect of disruptive actions and the potential for extremist influence. While security agencies need to monitor these dynamics, civil society can also play a crucial role in setting clear boundaries and offering exit strategies for those attracted to extremism.

Read the entire analysis "Radikalisierung als letzter Ausweg? – Die Orientierungslosigkeit im ‚Klima-Kampf‘ und die Grenzen von Aktivismus im Extremismus" here as a PDF.

This publication is only available in German.

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Felix Neumann

Felix Neumann

Counter-extremism and counter-terrorism +49 30 26996-3879


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