UN rapporteur: Climate activists in Europe under increasing pressure

(EurActiv, 3 Oct 2023) Climate activists are under increasing pressure in Europe, Michel Forst, the UN special rapporteur on Environmental Defenders, told Lusa on Monday while expressing his surprise at the violence with which some governments treat them.

“Rights defenders as a whole face several major challenges and risks in many countries, including in Europe, but those who are currently paying the highest price are precisely environmental activists and people trying to defend their land and the climate,” said Forst in an interview with Lusa.

As the first rapporteur in the world to focus on environmental defence campaigners, Forst was in Portugal to take part in the international conference of the Human Rights Platform at the Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.

“I don’t understand why, but the fact is that more and more politicians in more countries are comparing people who are actually peaceful demonstrators with violent terrorists,” he told Lusa, noting that he sees this “in Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, the UK, Germany and Switzerland”.

“I toured more than 20 European Union (EU) countries to meet with activists and governments, inviting them to describe the atmosphere they face in their countries, and I can assure you that the situation is becoming very, very, very tense,” he said, pointing out that governments such as those in France or Austria classify these activists as “eco-terrorists or green Taliban”.

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EurActiv, 3 Oct 2023: UN rapporteur: Climate activists in Europe under increasing pressure