Climate strike in Switzerland – once 100,000, now a few thousand: climate movement has leveled off – News


Four years ago, the youth movement in this country mobilized tens of thousands. Now it’s just a fraction. Two experts classify.

Demonstrations and strikes for a more effective climate policy took place in many cities around the world on Friday. Also in Switzerland; there were several hundred people in Bern and a similar number in Aarau. An estimated 150 to 200 people took to the streets in Lucerne and around 50 in St. Gallen. Only in Zurich were there a little more than a thousand demonstrators.


The activists are committed to treating the planet more carefully. Here is a picture of the demonstration in Bern.

KEYSTONE/Anthony Anex

These “global climate strikes” have already happened in the past and have been taking place several times a year since March 15, 2019. The demands have not changed in their basic features since then: It is about standing up for our planet.

The pandemic as a turning point

The first “Global Climate Strike” was almost exactly four years ago. At that time the situation was very different. On March 15, 2019, tens of thousands of young people demonstrated in many Swiss cities for more climate protection. In Bern and Lausanne there were around 10,000 participants, and according to the organizers there were even 12,000 in Zurich. A few months later there were almost 100,000 in Bern.

Since then there has been a decline. Why? Part of the answer: The climate youth has a communication problem. That says Dario Siegen, research associate at the Research Center Public and Society (Fög) at the University of Zurich. “When the movement had a lot of momentum, especially in 2019, climate issues were dominant in the media,” he says. “But then came the pandemic.”

In the media landscape, topics are in competition with each other. The more events of great relevance happen, the harder this battle for limited attention becomes. And no other topic has occupied the media in recent decades as much as the corona pandemic. ‘We can do that too statistically inferior», declares victories.

victim of their own success

As soon as the pandemic was over in Switzerland, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to attack Ukraine. “The pattern repeats itself,” says Siegen. Again, climate issues are crowded out by other events in the media. But Siegen also emphasizes: “The climate movement does not manage to create links to these topics in the media.” Or to put it another way: in the context of the war in Ukraine, land gains and deliveries of war material are of more than interest the renaissance of coal as an environmentally harmful energy source.

Cloé Jans also sees this competition. The political scientist at the GFS Bern company, which specializes in political and communication research, adds another point: “It is in the nature of movements that they cannot always mobilize the same masses.” Keeping the mobilization going for a long time is difficult – this is exactly what you see with the climate strike.

The movement is not over.

Federal elections are now due in autumn. Last time, the climate strike fueled the green wave. Jans says: “The climate movement has the same problem as the Greens themselves: the topic is no longer as dominant as it was four years ago.”

No matter which way you look at it: The world has been hit by two turning points since 2019 – climate change has receded into the background. And yet Jans emphasizes: “The movement is not over. The problem pressure in the population is clearly far too great for that.”

Tonight in «10 to 10»

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Tonight in «10 to 10»

More on the subject in “10 vor 10”, at 9:50 p.m. on SRF 1.

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