Germany’s Rhineland coalfields will become the centre point of the international fight against dirty energy this weekend as over a thousand protesters from across 45 countries come together to stop the world’s largest coal diggers in their tracks.
Targeting RWE’s opencast lignite mine, the Ende Gelände protest – translated as “here and no further” or “it’s finished now” – aims to bring the sites 220m-long diggers to a halt. 1500 people are taking part in the action, more than anyone was expecting. A thousand people were able to enter the mine and shut down two diggers for the day. Each digger is capable of tearing 240,000 tons of coal from the ground every day.
It should also be celebrated that so many people took part in an action of this type for the first time today. The size of today’s action shows that people are tired of waiting for governments to take the threat of climate change seriously and many people are ready to step up and take direct action.
The protesters broke through a police line in Garzweiler, west of Cologne. Police spokesman Anton Hamacher says officers used pepper spray to stop the crowd and are removing protesters from the site.
A spokesman for German energy company RWE says several huge bucket-wheel excavators used at the open-pit mine had to be shut down for safety reasons. RWE spokesman Lothar Lambertz says RWE has canceled plans to bring employees onto the site to rally in favor of coal mining.
Fanny Sannerud, who joined the action from Sweden said:
I have never taken direct action before but I can no longer stand silent and watch our politicians’ failure to act on climate change. I feel it’s up to me to confront business as usual at the source of the problem and at the same time remind our political leaders that a better future is possible — if we act now!
The science is clear: to keep global warming below 2C at least 80% of known fossil fuels must remain underground.
For Europe, that means 89 per cent of its coal reserves.
RWE’s lignite mines and coal power plants in the Rhineland are the biggest source of CO2 in Europe – with three of the region’s plants in the top five of Europe’s largest emitters – and these dirty coalfields have no place in a carbon-constrained world.
Meanwhile local villages have been abandoned, communities relocated and livelihoods ruined in the name of coal expansion, which causes significant risk to public health and threatens the EU’s climate leadership.
Antje Grothues, a resident living close to one of the mines said:
We’re suffering from the pollution and destruction of our homeland locally but the impacts of what’s happening here are felt globally. I’m delighted that so many people have come here to take a stand against coal. We’re not alone in our resistance and our fight for a transition to renewable energy.
Despite leading the G7’s historic call for an end to fossil fuels and calling for a far-reaching deal in Paris this December, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has continued to give concessions to the Germany’s coal industry.
Dorothee Häußermann, spokesperson for the protest organisers Ende Gelände said:
The massive resistance from RWE and Vattenfall lobbyists that we’ve seen over the past few months against the proposed coal levy has made it once more crystal clear that we need to take climate action into our own hands. That is why we will blockade the coal diggers in the Rhineland this August. There is no longer a place for lignite.
This weekend, the spotlight is back on the German government and with renewable energy winning the race against fossil fuels globally, and evidence showing a just transition could offer even more jobs than coal, citizens are calling on Germany to push its climate leadership rather than prop up its faltering coal industry.
Emma Biermann, 350.org European Organiser said:
Germany has been leading the way with its transition to renewable energy but is still far too reliant on coal. The vast majority of Germans want to move away from coal to 100% renewable energy, and people are no longer prepared to be held back by the outdated business model of fossil fuel companies like RWE. Governments need to phase out fossil fuels now – starting with coal.
This weekend’s protest are not happening in isolation.
They are just one example of a growing, global movement of citizens calling on their governments to follow their lead, and support strong climate action.
Over 50 countries have now tabled their UN climate plans, and with the world’s largest economies, and heads of the world’s most profitable companies supporting an end to the fossil fuel era, the pressure is now on all leaders to ensure they are on the right side of history.
See more at: http://tcktcktck.org/2015/08/spotlight-back-on-german-coal-as-citizens-call-for-clean-energy-future/