Stop Coal. Protect the Climate!

Ende Gelände in the Hambach opencast mine

Together we unmasked the hypocrisy of the German climate policy and showed our solidarity with those most affected by climate change – we review our successful blockade on November the 5th 2017.

Together we unmasked the hypocrisy of the German climate policy

Early in the afternoon of November the 5th, a group of activists from the green finger reached one of the colossal bucket-wheel excavators. At that time, the Ende Gelände activists had already brought the Hambach lignite mine to a halt. Thousands of brave men and women were in the pit facing the giant machines. The Ende Gelände alliance had reached its goal once again.

In this year the CO2 levels rose higher and faster than ever before. The official response of governments and corporations was to haggle over a way-too-slow coal phase out in German exploratory talks, and to suggest text contributions at the climate conference in Bonn. Although these are supposed to implement the Paris climate agreement, they are failing to produce the real solutions that are desperately needed.

Too slow and not enough for us!

All that politic wheeling-and-dealing and the delay tactics are a tradition of the last decades. We have known for thirty years that we must act straightaway. Yet the destruction has only increased, year after year. That’s why Ende Gelände blocked the open pit in the rhenish lignite mining region in another massive civil disobedience action. One day before the UN climate conference in Bonn began, thousands of brave people descended into the Hambach pit – the deepest man-made depression in Nordrhein-Westfalen. In that way, we showed the whole world what the climate policy of the pretended “land of the energy revolution” actually looks like.

Singing, dancing and bold down the pit

Despite heavy rain 4500 people gathered for the demonstration in Buir, about six kilometers away from the pit edge. Singing and dancing we began our protest march. We did not care much for the police, neither at the time they stopped us to take away our “dangerous” straw mattresses, nor later, as we ran through the police chains. The activists also walked near the rests of the Hambach woods, one of the oldest natural forests of Europe, now damned to succumb to the coal excavators. Clear and cool in mind, we all knew our goal: to block the excavators looming in the distance.

The fossil energy corporation RWE tried this year everything to prevent the occupation. One day before the action RWE was still excavating meter-deep troughs and heaping up walls. All access roads to the pit were destroyed, obviously to get rid of us. But we won’t leave in peace those making profit with coal. Avoiding the police chains, 3000 activists reached the pit. In the middle of that moon-like landscape we joined in a circle and held hands. The coal excavators and the conveyor belt had to stop. For one day, the destruction ceased.

We can’t be stopped. We will block the excavators over and over again.

This year, not only did we have more participants in Ende Gelände than ever before, but it was as well the most international coal resistance action of the last years – with large groups of participants from France, the Netherlands, Italy, England, Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark and other countries. They all stood together in the dust of the pit and endured pepper spray and a disproportionate use of police horses. At Ende Gelände, CODE ROOD, the occupation of the coal harbor Amsterdam, at No Grande Navi, the blockade of the cruiser harbor in Venice, or at the first czech climate camp this summer, an international movement for climate justice is building up, coming together and gathering strength.

We also gain confidence from the fact that Ende Gelände could be so successful without the support of a host climate camp. Many people from Bonn and Köln gave activists a place to spend the night in the cold November. We came in their living rooms and were glad to take our hosts with us down the pit. The newspaper taz wrote “Ende Gelände stands again at the top of the German climate movement – but their first line broadens”.

We are not drowning, we are fighting!

All talk about climate protection is hypocrisy as long as we keep extracting fossil fuels: they must stay in the ground, and indeed starting right now. Phasing out coal and all fossil energies cannot be negotiated. This measure is necessary to give those affected by climate change – now and in the future – a chance to live a good life.

We thank the Pacific Climate Warriors, who manifested their solidarity in a ceremony in Mannheim, for their unbroken fighting spirit and their willingness to share their story with us. Countries such as Germany must face their historical responsibility in global warming. It is a farce to discuss the implementation of the Paris Agreement in Bonn, 50 km away from the spot where monstrous quantities of the most dirty of coals are being excavated. We don’t let that pass away without a remark. We unmask the hypocritical climate policy of Germany and take coal phase out into our own hands.