Lützerath must make way for stone mining: the fight for a village

Status: 11/10/2022 11:14 AM

The village of Lützerath in North Rhine-Westphalia is set to give way to lignite mining – despite the decision to phase out coal. Green politicians are responsible, climate activists feel betrayed and want to fight.

For 29-year-old Julia Riddell of the anti-granite “All Villages Stay” initiative and other activists, it’s clear they would stand in the way of RWE’s rigs. The announcement of the decision by Federal Green Economy Minister Robert Habeck and NRW Green Economy Minister Mona Neubauer has angered activists as they eat breakfast at a long wooden table at the resistance camp near Lützerath.

A year ago, Newport demonstrated with climate activists in order to preserve the settlement. They remember it well here. “The Greens have proven time and time again that they betray their ideals when in government.”

A place with a powerful symbolic

The other two politicians Habeck, Neubauer and RWE announced last week that the phase-out of lignite in the Rhenish mining area will be introduced for an eight-year period until 2030. However, the Lützerath lignite mining settlement will be demolished.

Tents and tree houses

“We’re not going to give up on Lützerath,” says Julia, who’s been living here for a year. This battle has always been international. Activists from all over the world now arrive and settle in tents, tree houses and abandoned farms not far from the edge of the huge pit of the Garzweiler II open-pit mine. They come from France, Norway, Spain, Poland, the Netherlands, and also from Australia.

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“We are here because we are also fighting for people in the Global South, because entire areas there are already uninhabitable,” says Julia, who is actually a medical doctor. That’s why I decided to resist here. “It’s as if the house is on fire, and RWE and the greens are now pouring over 200 million tons of coal into it.”

Julia Riddle participated in the protests to keep Lützerath for a year.

Photo: WDR

Julia says that every day people stick to coal is a disaster for people who are already feeling the effects of the climate disaster. And “Fridays for the Future” is highly critical of the coal-burning plans under Lützerath and refers to them Study by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). I came to the conclusion that coal under the Lützerath would not be essential to Germany’s energy security even in times of a gas crisis. One would call for protests in Düsseldorf, Berlin, Duisburg, and in Luzerath.

Does the deal help the climate?

On the other hand, Economy Minister NRW Green Neubauer is convinced: coal is needed in the crisis. In order to ensure security of supply this winter and next winter, coal must be mined under Lützerath. Three independent reports came to the same conclusion, explained Newport when asked again tagesschau.de. In addition, the Garzweiler II open-pit mine has been approved for the amount of brown coal of 560 million tons. The former director left 280 million tons of lignite in the ground. RWE has also committed to investing in renewable energies.

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Fridays for the Future talks about the “clear success of the climate movement that commits RWE to phase out coal in 2030.” However, in light of this, it is a disaster that the government is still not taking serious measures to save energy and reduce emissions in all sectors. Her spokeswoman Daria Sotoudeh says she sees the compromise as an attempt to “cover up the inaction on the rapid energy transition and rapid expansion of public transport”.

Lützerath gives way to the Garzweiler II exposed lignite mine.

Photo: dpa

Is there such a scenario in the Hambach Forest in 2018?

In the area between Aachen and Cologne, many Greens have been active in the anti-lignite movement for years, such as Antje Grothus, who campaigned to save the Hambach forest. “For me as a climate activist, compromise is not easy,” said the green member of the state parliament. “Especially those who made this success possible through their commitment must now relinquish a place that is so important to them and the environment.” Young Green agrees that the decision to go to Lützerath is destroying social peace and has fought over climate policy.

“I can understand that not all climate advocates agree with the decision that has now been made,” Neubaur admits. She said she hopes activists will see “the huge success of removing coal in 2030 to protect the climate.” tagesschau.de. In order to protect the climate for future generations, one must take practical steps. Lützerath regards them as a symbol of exactly this: the early phasing out of coal, which they promoted.

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Julia Riddle says it is not clear when the evacuation of the camp will begin with about 100 activists. Since the beginning of October, excavators have dug the edge of the quarry less than 100 meters from the city limits. “If the authorities try to evacuate, tens of thousands of people will come to Lützerath and oppose it,” Julia is convinced.

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