The fight against coal in Germany that culminated in months of fierce protests to stop coal company RWE to raze the old-growth Hambach forest made headlines around the world.
The movement celebrated a moratorium on logging last year and the government has since committed to a coal phaseout. However, the currently proposed level of ambition and timeline of the coal exit are, to borrow Greta Thunberg’s words, ‘shameful and unacceptable’.
Even with the weak phaseout scenario recommended by the government-tasked coal commission, the Hambach forest and the villages that are currently threatened by nearby mines can actually be saved, as scientific studies have confirmed.
In spite of this, RWE has continued to demolish houses and chop down trees. The growing resistance and success of the anti-coal movement has given the inhabitants of the villages new hope.
In the short video above (in German) Marita Dresen who lives on a farm in the village of Kuckum, which is threatened by RWE’s lignite mine Garzweiler says:
“I had pretty much given up until about half a year ago. When the movement halted the logging of Hambi that has given me personally a huge boost.
I joined the fight in Hambi a few times as well and thought to myself, we have to put up the same kind of fight for the people here in these villages.
It gives me a lot of strength to see that it’s possible to protect our homes when we get a lot of people to stand with us and we show the public how badly RWE is treating us.”
Marita has joined a new coalition of people whose homes are threatened by coal mining around the country and climate justice activists. The name of the coalition Alle Dörfer Bleiben (‘all villages stay’) has become the new banner that the anti-coal movement is getting behind, building on the success of last year when the movement came together around the battleground of the Hambach forest under the slogan Hambi bleibt (‘Hambi stays’).
The coalition demands an immediate end to all demolitions, forced displacements, logging and the destruction of farmland, as well as a rapid coal phaseout in line with the 1.5°C limit of the Paris Agreement. They see themselves as part of the global fight for climate justice.
There are several mobilisations coming up over the next few months to keep the diggers out of the villages starting with a protest march connecting threatened villages in the Rhineland this Saturday, 23 March. Ende Gelände, the German climate justice grassroots coalition has also announced a mass action to block lignite mining in the Rhineland in solidarity with the local communities this summer from 19 to 24 June.
The reignited opposition by local communities on the frontlines of coal mining and a new movement of youths stepping up in school strikes across the country have built on the momentum of Germany’s anti-coal movement. They are standing together to make sure that no more trees and no more villages are sacrificed for the last breaths of Germany’s dying coal industry.