Lo Spiegante: Ende Gelände and the global climate justice

The German elections took place on September 24th. Some days later we spoke with Ende Gelande,  a coalition of environmental groups from “anti-nuclear  and anti-coal movements, the Rhineland and Lausitz climate camps and the Hambacher Forest anti-coal campaign”. We asked them some questions regarding their organization, their goals and future actions. Here you can find what they said.

First of all we would like to ask You what your organization is about, which are your goals and which methods of intervention do you generally use.

We are a big coalition of political groups, individuals and NGOs and we demand immediate coal phase out in Germany. Immediate coal phase out is an obligatory step in taking responsibility on tackling global warming and working on global climate justice. Therefore we organise mass actions of civil disobedience that target browncoal infrastructure in Germany. Browncoal/lignite is the dirtiest fossil fuel and its combustion produces a lot of CO2-emissions. It is dug out of huge open cast mines and then brought to nearby powerplants. With our actions we try to block mines and power plants and set a sign against the lignite and energy industry. With their highly profitable business they enhance climate change and people from all over the world have to suffer from this mindlessness.

We’re also interested in what happened in August, can you explain to our readers what happened? Which is the problem of Rhineland?

The Rhineland in the far west of Germany is home to the biggest lignite mines of not just Germany, but the world. This year Ende Gelände was active in the Rhineland for the second time (first time: 2015). We blocked railway tracks to cut off a lignite fueled power plant from its supply. The actions lasted for two days and again and again smaller and bigger groups got past the police and on the tracks. Overall 2000 people took part in Ende Gelände in August.
The very special thing about the Rhineland action of this year is the following: Ende Gelände was part of the action days. Within these action days there was also a legal demonstration (human chain), climate camps at three different places in the Rhineland, sitting blockades and small group actions. So while Ende Gelände was blocking railway tracks for two days, others were blocking streets around power plants or entering the mines to stop diggers and conveyor belts. Overall these action days lasted for six days and we managed to get all kinds of people involved: from autonomous affinity groups to professional politicians.

What kind of relationship do you have with your Country?

This is partly a personal answer and not necessarily the official position of Ende Gelände: no country in the world digs out and burns as much lignite as Germany. Hardly any country in the world has benefitted from the combustion of fossil fuels over the last two centuries. People in our country are ridiculously wealthy and by insisting on our living standard we keep on contributing to climate change big time. But global warming is already damaging/killing people at many places on earth and it is particularly threatening for the poorest people. This has to stop! A rich country like Germany that has been actively destroying for centuries must:
a) stop doing so
b) pay for the enormous ecological debt which is has produced over the years.
This is a position to what Germany should do.

Our relationship to the country is at times of course an intense one. In our actions we are faced by hundreds of police men and women who do not hesitate to stop us with pepper spray and clubs. And in the aftermath many people get sued. All, because we are demanding climate justice and block infrastructure with nothing but our bodies. Hence, I would describe the relationship Ende Gelände-Germany as rather tense.

There has been a meeting (15-17 September). What was it about?

On the first weekend of Novemeber there will be an Ende Gelände action in the Rhineland again. Only one day after this action the next UNFCCC COP (United Natins Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties) will take place and diplomats, politicians and businesses from around the world will meet to negotiate about politics of global warming. We have seen this happening many times and with our actions we want to show the world: while the German government is talking a lot about saving the climate, we screw it – day in, day out – with our coal industry.
The meeting in September was one of two preparatory meetings. The second one will be in  the mid of October.

What do you expect about Bonn negotiation in October?

We expect protesters from all the world making a strong claim for climate justice outside the negotiations. Climate justice is an integral part of global justice for the next decades and century. We hope, we can make this visible to a big public in November.
From the conference itself we do not expect anything. While COPs are the one of the very few places where voices on climate justice from the Global South are expressed and heard, we have seen for decades, that COPs are not the place to stop global warming. However, this year’s COP will be the first one organised by a small island state: Fiji. It will be very interesting to see how this is going to play out.

What is your position about German elections?

Overall: terrible. A far right, human-made climate change denying party is the third strongest party. But to make it even worse: not one single party that is in the parliament now is demanding immediate coal phase out. We take from this: we have to keep on fighting for our positions outside the parliament. And we’re up for it!


Lo Spiegone è una testata registrata presso il Tribunale di Roma, 38 del 24 marzo 2020
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