„Auf geht’s! Ab geht’s! Ende Gelände!“ “What do we want? Climate Justice! What do we want? Climate Justice. Now!”
We are shouting this into the air of the early morning, chasing away the last dreams, maybe also chasing away the fear of the unforeseeable days ahead of us. We are around 1000 people gathering this morning on a meadow in a small german town close to Cologne, from where we want to start as one “Finger” into the Ende Gelände Action, a mass action of civil disobedience that takes place in Germany once per year since 2015 and aims to block coal pits and coal mining infrastructure such as baggers and railways for up to 48 hours, insist on the immediate phase-out of coal power and demand climate justice.
The region of Rhineland close to Cologne and Düsseldorf, where 6000 people gathered last weekend for “Ende Gelände”, is the center of german industry. The Hambach and Garzweiler coal mines and their surrounding power plants, which are situated in Rhineland, are the biggest source of CO2 in Europe. Their energy is used to power the big neighbouring cities, but also german heavy industry with companies like “Rheinmetall” which is the biggest producer of weapons in Germany, mostly delivering their products to foreign countries.
The Ende Gelände action is peaceful. Our aim is neither to destroy anything, nor to act violently towards anyone. By the mere presence of our bodies in the mines, the baggers need to stop working, and trains cannot run if people are laying across the rails.
With the presence of our bodies in those places, we want to make a sign, we want to send a message.
The Ende Gelände action is using collective civil disobedience to show that certain laws, such as those backing the mining business of RWE company are ethically not compatible with the quest for a future that bear life for all of us. Breaking these laws, we want to show that the business-as-usual of a well-organized state such as Germany is destroying the base of our common future. And in present times destroys lives of people mostly living in the global south.
Our action is illegalized. Police is trying to block us, trying to prevent us from climbing down into the coal pits or from reaching the railways where trains bring coal from the mines to the power plants. But we are many. In total 6000 people, organized in 6 big groups of around 1000 people, using different ways to reach their goal – the blockade. It is not always easy to flow through the police chains, but they are too few to hold most of us back. 5 out of 6 groups reach their goal and succeed to block the mining infrastructure.
We want to make civil society and politicians open their eyes and see that climate change is happening here. Now. And that we need to take action. Here. Now.
Burning of coal for the generation of energy is one of the main reasons for Climate Change and its consequences: weather instability, desertification, crops fail, conflict, migration, xenophobia, nationalism…
In Germany, even though the country likes to present itself with the image of a future-oriented, sustainable, “green” society, 40% of energy are still generated through coal. And this, in addition to the consumerist lifestyle most people are living has a huge effect on the global climate, with the consequences being noticeable firstly in regions of the global south, where people’s lifestyle is much less a cause of climate change, but where they are also living in conditions that expose them way harsher to its consequences.
That’s why sitting here in the mine also means demanding global climate justice. We are asking the civil society, the government, all people, to do what they can in order to go for a deep social, ecological, economical, cultural transformation that enables us to live more sustainable, with respect and love for the life of earth and all human and non-human beings living within her in present and future times.
“We are earth defending herself!”
Lea, June 2019