April 27, 2015

Climate activists announce mass action targeting Europe’s biggest source of CO2

Cologne, Germany – The Rhineland coalfields – as Europe’s biggest source of CO2 emissions – will become the target of a mass act of civil disobedience in the lead-up to the Paris climate negotiations this year, a coalition of grassroots activists announced today. [1] The news follows an anti-coal human chain of more than 6,000 people at one of the mines on Saturday.

The weekend of 14-16 August, hundreds of people from Germany, neighbouring countries and other parts of Europe will force utility company RWE to stop the diggers, and call for an end to coal in the face of increasingly dangerous climate change. The Bagger 228 diggers used in the vast open-pit lignite mines are 220 metres long — the world’s biggest land vehicles.

350.org European Organiser Emma Biermann says: “Germany has been leading the way with its transition to renewable energy but is still far too reliant on coal. The vast majority of Germans want to move away from coal to 100% renewable energy, and people are no longer prepared to be held back by the outdated business model of fossil fuel companies like RWE. Governments need to phase out fossil fuels now – starting with coal.”

Germany is currently debating measures to meet its climate commitments. Proposed legislation to limit emissions from coal power plants faces fierce opposition from the coal industry that is under enormous economic pressure. Up to 45% of RWE’s fossil fuel power stations are no longer commercially viable because the company failed to adapt its business model to Germany’s renewable energy transition. [2]

Dorothee Häußermann, a grassroots climate activist who is involved in organising the mass action says, “The massive resistance from RWE and Vattenfall lobbyists that we’ve seen over the past few weeks against the proposed coal levy has made it once more crystal clear that we need to take climate action into our own hands. That is why we will blockade the coal diggers in the Rhineland this August. There is no longer a place for lignite.”

Coal accounts for over a third of Germany’s greenhouse gas emissions. [3] The vast majority of Germans want coal to be phased out completely by 2040 at the latest. [4] RWE’s lignite mines and coal power plants in the Rhineland in Western Germany are the biggest source of CO2 in Europe, with three of its power plants in the top 5 of Europe’s largest CO2 emitters. [5]



Contact: Emma Biermann, 350.org European Organiser, [email protected], +33 750 939 432

Hoda Baraka, 350.org Global Communications Manager, [email protected], +201001840990


Photos are available here. Additional photos from the human chain are available here.


Notes to editors:

[1] The coalition organising the mass action is made up of individuals, environmental and social groups. It sees itself as part of the international grassroots movement that fights against fossil fuels and stands up for climate justice and a global energy transition from the bottom-up. They name safety for all participants as a priority and stress that there will be various ways to join the action to ensure accessibility for everyone. The group is planning action trainings for interested participants in 50 cities in Germany and Europe.

[2] Financial Times: RWE warns core earnings will fall amid energy market shake-up, March 10, 2015

[3] IEA: CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, 2014

[4] dpa: Deutsche für Kohleausstieg [Germans in favour of coal phase-out], April 8, 2015

[5] Sandbag: For the first time, 4 out of 5 largest EU emitters are German lignite power stations, April 1, 2015