Lützerath has to give way to lignite mining: fight for a village

Status: 10/11/2022 11:14 AM

The village of Lützerath in North Rhine-Westphalia is giving way to lignite mining – despite the decision to phase out coal. Green politicians are responsible, climate activists feel betrayed and want to fight.

For 29-year-old Julia Riedel of the anti-lignite initiative “All Villages Remain” and the other activists, it is clear that she will stand in the way of RWE’s excavators. The fact that the decision was announced by Green Federal Economy Minister Robert Habeck and NRW Green Economy Minister Mona Neubaur infuriated activists over breakfast at the long wooden table in the resistance camp near Lützerath.

A year ago, Neubaur demonstrated with climate activists for the preservation of the settlement. They remember that very well here. “The Greens have proven time and again that they betray their ideals when they are in government.”

place with symbolic power

The two green politicians Habeck, Neubaur and RWE announced last week that the phase-out of lignite in the Rhineland mining area would be brought forward by eight years to 2030. Nevertheless, the settlement of Lützerath must be demolished for lignite mining.

tents and tree houses

“We will not give up Lützerath,” says Julia, who has been here for a year. And this struggle has long been international. Activists from around the world are now arriving and settling in the tents, treehouses and abandoned ranches not far from the edge of the huge pit of the Garzweiler II opencast mine. They come from France, Norway, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, but also from Australia.

“We’re here because we’re also fighting for the people of the South, because whole areas there are already uninhabitable,” says Julia, who is actually a doctor. So she decided to resist here. “It’s like the house is on fire and RWE and the Greens are now pouring over 200 million tons of coal into it.”

Julia Riedel has been participating in the protests for a year to keep Lützerath.

Image: WDR

Every day that people cling to coal is a disaster for those who are already feeling the effects of the climate catastrophe, Julia says. And “Fridays for Future” also sharply criticizes the plans to burn coal under Lützerath, citing a study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). She concluded that the coal under Lützerath would not be necessary for energy security in Germany even in times of the gas crisis. There will be calls for protests in Düsseldorf, Berlin, Duisburg and Lützerath.

Does the deal help the climate?

The green NRW Minister of Economic Affairs Neubaur, on the other hand, is convinced: the coal is needed in the crisis. In order to guarantee supplies this winter and next, the coal must be extracted under Lützerath. Three independent reports came to the same conclusion, Neubaur explained when asked again tagesschau.de. In addition, the Garzweiler II opencast mine has been approved for a lignite quantity of 560 million tonnes. As a result of the earlier exit, 280 million tons of lignite were put into the ground. RWE is also committed to investing in renewable energy sources.

“Fridays for Future” speaks of a “clear success of the climate movement that is mobilizing RWE to phase out coal by 2030”. In view of this, however, it is a disaster that the government is still not taking serious measures to save energy and reduce emissions in all sectors. She sees the compromise as an attempt “to cover up the passivity of accelerated energy transition and rapid expansion of public transport,” said spokeswoman Darya Sotoodeh.

Lützerath has to make way for the open-cast lignite mine Garzweiler II.

Image: dpa

Is there such a scenario in the Hambacher Forest in 2018?

In the region between Aachen and Cologne, many Greens have been active in the anti-lignite movement for years, such as Antje Grothus, who campaigned to save the Hambacher Forest. “For me as a climate activist, the compromise is not easy,” said the green member of the state parliament. “Especially those people who have made this success possible through their efforts, now have to give up the place that is so important to them and the climate.” The Green Youth agrees that the decision to move to Lützerath destroys social peace and is fatal to climate policy.

“I can understand that not all climate protectors agree with the decision that has now been taken,” admits Neubaur. She hopes the activists will see “what a huge success the 2030 coal phase out is for climate protection,” she said. tagesschau.de. To protect the climate for future generations, pragmatic measures must be taken. Lützerath sees them as a symbol of exactly this: the early phasing out of coal, which they promoted.

It is not clear when the evacuation of the camp with about 100 activists will start, says Julia Riedel. Since the beginning of October, the excavators have excavated the edge of the quarry to less than 100 meters from the city boundary. “If the authorities try to evacuate, tens of thousands of people will come to Lützerath and resist them,” Julia is convinced.

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