New call to resist in defence of Lützerath

(Castellano) (euskera)

Lützerath, or as it is known among the activists, the ZAD (Zona a Defender) Lützi, is the forest camp that still continues to protect this village and the forest from being swallowed up by the huge open-pit mine of Garzweiler. Their eviction was announced for this January, so the activists have made a call to come to support them. From here, from Euskal Herria (Basque Country), we join their call and will update on the case.
Lützerath lebt (Lützerath lives)!

As the ZAD reports, «since 2 January there have been a lot of police on the site, and some barricades have already been cleared». According to the activists, the police and RWE are starting to build infrastructure on the site in order to surround the camp. They understand that «once the fence is built, it will be much more difficult» to access and join the resistance, which they hope will be completed in the next few days. They have also already started to send a massive number of police, 1,000 per day. That is why they have called on everyone who can to come and join the occupation of Lützi.

They expect the eviction attempt to last between 1 and 6 weeks, but they are also optimistic and hope to get people to continue to occupy the forest and protect it. Activists have occupied some of the emptied houses that are still standing. Meanwhile, many others are concentrated in the villages of Holzweiler and Keyenberg, in the Unser Alle (All of Us) camp.

Once again, the strategy is clear: like the occupation of the forest itself, the idea is to block the machines and prevent the arrival of new police units peacefully, with only human presence and using different formulas such as tripods and poles, barricades, and so on (see article). This also requires outside support in the form of supplies, materials, etc. And of course: protest from outside is also welcome, against RWE and the hypocritical German and European energy and climate policy.

Because, as German climate activists, groups like Ende Gelände or this squat itself have been denouncing for a long time, we are facing a great case of climate hypocrisy: RWE is a public energy company, but while it reiterates a discourse of decarbonisation, it continues to burn coal (in this case lignite) and extract it.

Squated farm in Lützerath. Photo: Superbass (ützerath#)

Garzweiler, as a replica of Hambach

The Garzweiler mine has the same characteristics as the better known (because of actions, occupations and previous resistance) Hambach mine : it is a lignite (brown coal) mine. Like Hambach, Garzweiler belongs to the energy company RWE, which uses this lignite in its power stations in Neurath and Niederaußem. And like Hambach, it has become a reference point and target for the climate movement, which sees its exploitation as a direct link to its country’s climate responsibility. This new mining phase aims to extract 600 million tons of lignite.

Like Hambach, its dimensions are enormous: Hambach is 43.8 km2 (2017) with a total designated area of 85 km2, while Garzweiler I is 66 km2 and Garzweiler II is 48 km2, to be increased as it was started in 2006 and is still planned to be exploited until 2045. And like Hambach at great depth (500 metres deep).

And like Hambach, it gobbles up everything in its path, from forests and ecosystems to villages and even motorways, impacts that are added to the climatic impact of its burning. In fact its name, Garzweiler, corresponds to a village it engulfed and whose inhabitants were resettled.

This open-cast mine is only a few kilometres from Hambach, also in North Rhine-Westphalia. It is next to Hochneukirch with 4,000 inhabitants and very close to the town of Erkelenz (43,492 inhabitants), to which Lützerath belongs.

Now, at the second phase of Garzweiler included the relocation of 12 more villages and the relocation of some 12,000 more people. In 2018 it was the turn of another 900. And the destruction of the village, including its church and windmills, took place. In the Rhineland, more than 45,000 people have already been resettled in open-cast lignite mines and more than 100 localities including historical and artistic heritage sites have been destroyed.

Lützerath’s eviction started on 10th January (Aktionsticker Lützerath)

And like Hambach, the advance of the Garzweiler mine has been resisted by both the affected inhabitants and the environmental and climate movement. One of the last inhabitants to be evicted, Eckhardt Heukamp, filed a legal complaint. The court in Aachen ruled against him, but Heukamp turned to the higher administrative court in Münster. RWE waited until the court made its decision public, so the mining advance was postponed.

Apart from the effect on these people, we have to take into account that this displacement also means the loss of culture heritage and values, rural ways of life that used to imply higher levels of sustainability than those that are now being imposed.

The high cost of fosil dependency

All this destruction is based on an old German mining law and the government’s decision that it is in the public interest to extract coal to produce electricity. Greenpeace calls this «absurd». As they rightly argue «Climate protection is in the public interest», because no energy source is more damaging to the climate than lignite, and by maintaining its dependence on this energy source Germany is in breach of its commitments to the 2015 Paris climate agreement.

In 2014, 27% of Germany’s electricity came from lignite-fired power plants. Lignite contains high percentages of carbon with up to 70%, as it is coal in its first stage. Therefore it also has a lower energy density than harder black coals (only about 18 MJ/kg).

Lützerath’s eviction started on 10th January  (Aktionsticker Lützerath)

RWE is one of the companies with the greatest climate impact, mainly due to its coal-fired power generation. In 2018, RWE was the largest producer of carbon dioxide emissions in Europe. In an attempt to clean up its image it is indeed investing in renewables, and ironically announces that «Our goal is clear: to be carbon neutral by 2040«. The irony is all the greater because in September 2021 it was revealed that RWE is among several fossil fuel companies suing governments for enacting climate change policies. RWE sued the Dutch government for $1.6 billion over its decision to phase out and close coal-fired power plants.

The environmental movement claims that RWE never carried out an environmental impact assessment to operate these mines, because when they were started in the 1970s it was not mandatory. Since 2012, environmentalists have been protesting against RWE’s Hambach mine because of its direct connection to energy production and emissions.

In November 2017, the German branch of Friends of the Earth, Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND), sued RWE in the Higher Administrative Court of Münster which ruled to stop the logging of the Hambach forest. It is a great act of hypocrisy to claim to be «responsible for the climate emergency» and, in addition to burning coal, raze existing indigenous and ancient forests, which are irreplaceable carbon sinks.

That year, coinciding with the Bonn Climate Summit, COP 23, several thousand people occupied the mine and stopped its activity. The same action was replicated in October 2018. In July 2019, RWE was heavily criticised in the media for its handling of the conflict involving the occupation of the Hambach Forest, which bears a strong resemblance to the current Lützerath occupation. A court order prevented further logging until the end of 2020, to examine whether it was in breach of EU environmental regulations. After the eviction of Hambi, the occupation in defence of the Hambach forest in 2018, the activists moved to Lützerath.

You will find more about the resistance in Lützerath and similar ones in this other article:

Resisting with the forests from the treetops

Lutzerath solidarity message from Oaxaca, from APIIDTT.

LÜTZI [Village Occupation] – ZAD Rheinland from Transparent Film on Vimeo.





Blog de

Subir ↑

A %d blogueros les gusta esto: