In this paper, the domination of the youth climate movement by the use of derogatory ageist language in German newspapers is uncovered. We find that German newspapers use different ageist media images, including ‘pupils’, ‘absentees’ and ‘dreamers’, to de-legitimize the FridaysForFuture movement. Greta Thunberg is presented as a ‘young hero’, who is held responsible for youngsters’ absenteeism. FAZ and taz present a paternalist discourse in which the central narrative is that the young climate activists are pupils who are ignorant and still need to learn; and who are obliged by law to go to school. We argue that German newspapers align with the exclusive hegemony of an established environmental governance regime that struggles with the problematic phasing out of coal in Germany. Instead, a common practice of reluctancy and skepticism appears inherited in conservative discussions on climate action led by FAZ and the so-called coal commission.