August 14, 2015

Over a thousand prepare to stop operations of Europe’s biggest polluter

Erkelenz, Germany — More than a thousand people from across Europe have gathered in Germany’s Rhineland – the biggest source of CO2 emissions in Europe [1] – to bring the giant coal excavators to a standstill and call for an end to coal.

Protesters are preparing to enter one of the vast open-pit lignite mines (also known as brown coal) to force utility company RWE to stop the diggers. Participants have arrived from Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, France, the UK, Spain, Poland, Ukraine and Sweden.

Antje Grothues, a resident living close to one of the mines says: “We’re suffering from the pollution and destruction of our homeland locally but the impacts of what’s happening here are felt globally. I’m delighted that so many people have come here to take a stand against coal. We’re not alone in our resistance and our fight for a transition to renewable energy.”

Fanny Sannerud, who has come to the action from Sweden says: “I have never taken direct action before but I can no longer stand silent and watch our politicians’ failure to act on climate change. I feel it’s up to me to confront business as usual at the source of the problem and at the same time remind our political leaders that a better future is possible — if we act now!”

Naomi Klein, award-winning journalist and bestselling author, commented: “These coalfields pose an existential threat to humanity, which is why our movements need to step in once again and shut them down. This August, there is no more important place to be.”

Bill McKibben, co-founder of, said: “I’m so glad to see people drawing a firm line in the coalfields, and stopping the planet’s largest coal-digging machines. We’re driven not by ideology but by physics: there’s simply no way to burn all this lignite and keep the climate intact. These protesters are lifeguards for an endangered planet.”

The action enjoys broad support with plans for a family-friendly solidarity demonstration outside the mine. Friends of the Earth Germany, Oxfam, Campact and other German NGOs have issued a statement in support of the action. [2]



Additional information: & media brief about the action

Contact: Melanie Mattauch, Europe Communications Coordinator, [email protected], +49 151 5812 0184

Photos are available from preparations for the action on the 350 and Ende Gelände Flickr account. Additional photos of the Rhineland coalfields are also free to use. Images from the action itself will become available on Saturday.

Notes to editor:

[1] The Rhineland coalfields are home to three open-pit lignite mines and lignite power stations that include three of the five largest EU emitters, which released 86 million tn of CO2 in 2014. Utility company RWE is Europe’s single biggest emitter of CO2.

[2] More details about the solidarity statement from German NGOs