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In a shift since the last European Parliament elections, mainstream parties have adopted climate change as a rallying cry—spurred in part by a wave of student strikes.
With the "Fridays for Future" protest due to continue in cities across the continent on the second day of voting, the growing consensus for urgent climate action has raised hopes of cross-party cooperation.
Populists - Gains
But there are also fears populists could torpedo this if they make strong gains.
A Eurobarometer poll shows climate change is now a leading concern for European Union voters, not far behind economic issues and rivalling worries about migration.
Protests - Activists - Term - Climate - Emergency
And, amid weekly protests over what activists now term the climate emergency, Europe's mainstream political parties have finally grasped the issue.
"It is fair to say that climate and environmental policies now are embedded in all the political parties," said Dara Murphy, campaign director for the European People's Party (EPP), the largest bloc in the outgoing European Parliament.
Issues - Elections - Murphy - AFP - Ireland
"If you compare it to 2014, it has really become one of the top issues in the European elections," Murphy told AFP from his native Ireland after trips to other EU countries.
He said the centre-right EPP added climate change to its campaign programme over the last two years based on research showing growing environment concerns.
Analyst - Stella - Schaller - Laurence - Tubiana
But analyst Stella Schaller and Laurence Tubiana, an architect of the Paris climate deal, said global warming's rise to major political prominence is more recent.
"We saw the debate tipping in the last four to six months," Schaller, analyst at Berlin's Adelphi environmental policy think tank, told AFP.
Shift - Schaller - Droughts - Fires - Floods
The shift has occurred, Schaller said, as droughts, fires and floods hurt farmers, scientists multiply dire warnings, street protests increase and the media highlight it all.
'Fridays for Future'
Proponents - Action - Fridays - Future - Boycott
Among the loudest proponents for urgent action are the recent "Fridays for Future" boycott of classes worldwide, with more mass protests set...
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