April 8, 2016

Climate activists denounce planned sale of Vattenfall’s lignite operations to Czech buyer


Thousands expected to shut down Vattenfall’s operations in civil disobedience mass action

Stockholm/ Prague/ Berlin — Climate activists harshly denounce the planned sale of energy giant Vattenfall’s lignite coal mines and power plants in Germany to Czech investor EPH, which is supposed to be approved within the next ten days, even though the proposal has yet to be presented to the Swedish government, according to Reuters. Thousands of people are preparing to shut down Vattenfall’s operations this May in an act of mass civil disobedience in a call for the coal to be kept in the ground and to demonstrate the resistance any new buyer will face.

“The climate crisis is about to spiral out of control if we keep burning fossil fuels – especially lignite, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels. Vattenfall has been cashing in profits for years at the expense of people and the environment. Now it’s time for Vattenfall to own up to its responsibility towards its workers and the ecological and social damage it has inflicted on the region,” said Hannah Eichberger from the anti-coal coalition Ende Gelände that is organising the mass action in May. “Any new buyer will be facing the climate movement’s resistance. Whether it’s Vattenfall or EPH, we won’t rest until the last mine is closed,” she added.

More than 20 busses have already been announced to come to the action called Ende Gelände (‘here and no further’) that will stop coal extraction in one of Europe’s biggest open-pit lignite mines. Busses have been confirmed from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, the Czech Republic and Sweden, with mini buses coming from the UK and Denmark. The action is planned at one of Vattenfall’s mines in Lusatia, in eastern Germany between 13-16 May.

Swedish climate activist Annika said: “As a nation that aspires to be at the frontline of sustainable development, the Swedish government simply cannot approve this deal. Leaving the coal in the ground is Sweden’s biggest opportunity to contribute to the fight against climate change. Sweden has to take responsibility and keep the coal in the ground – to avoid irreversible climate change we simply cannot burn it. Vattenfall is owned by the state and we, the people, have a say in this matter. That’s why we’ll travel to Germany in May to take action for Sweden’s coal to be kept in the ground. Vattenfall and the government are shying away from taking responsibility, but we won’t.”

The Swedish government ordered the state-owned company to get out of its destructive lignite mining in Germany last year. Since then, Vattenfall has been struggling to find a buyer for its lignite mines and power plants. Vattenfall’s struggle to sell its coal portfolio reflects the dismal economic situation of a dying industry. Peabody, the world’s largest private coal mining company, is on the edge of bankruptcy, while investors are pulling out of coal as share prices plummet and the growing divestment movement builds pressure.

Ende Gelände will take place in the context of a global series of escalated actions under the banner ‘Break Free from fossil fuels’ that aims to disrupt the fossil fuel industry’s power by targeting the world’s most dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel projects. Thousands of people from around the world will join actions across 6 continents. Major actions are planned in Indonesia, Nigeria, Brazil, US, Germany, UK, Philippines, Australia, Turkey, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand led by the communities that have spent years already fighting dangerous fossil fuel projects.


Contact: Melanie Mattauch, 350.org Europe Communications Coordinator, [email protected], +49151 5812 0184; Hannah Eichberger, Ende Gelände, [email protected], +49 157 70584656