Climate activists are currently occupying the village of Lützerath in Germany.
Protests, occupied excavators, street barricades on country roads – the situation in Lützerath in North Rhine-Westphalia is becoming increasingly tense. The village in the Rhenish lignite mining area, occupied by climate protectors, is about to be evicted due to a residence ban. Police forces have been on duty since the beginning of the week to support the work of the energy supply group RWE, which now fully owns the place.
According to climate activists, around 300 people are currently in Lützerath to block construction work by RWE. Since the beginning of the week, the police have been preparing to evacuate the village. Activists also erected barricades and fireworks and stones were thrown at emergency services.
RWE mines lignite in the Rhenish mining area west of Cologne. The village of Lützerath is also in the area of the northern district. The meanwhile uninhabited village is to be excavated because RWE wants to expand the Garzweiler opencast mine and extract the coal lying beneath the site.
More coal demand due to energy crisis
In October, the Essen-based energy company agreed with the Greens-led federal and North Rhine-Westphalian economics ministries to end lignite-fired power generation by 2030 instead of 2038 as before Extended at the end of March 2024.
According to the authorities, in order to extract the quantities of coal required by 2030, the coal under Lützerath is required. According to the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Economic Affairs, the coal is also needed to operate the lignite industry at high capacity during the energy crisis.
Because of the energy crisis, there is an “increased demand for lignite, which is needed to maintain security of supply,” it says officially. However, expert reports by the Coalexit Research Group and the German Institute for Economic Research recently came to the conclusion that energy supply during the crisis would also be possible without the coal under Lützerath.
Will the village be sacrificed for a coal phase-out?
Climate protectors are fighting to preserve the village and want to prevent it from being demolished. They are calling for a moratorium on evictions. They warn of damage to the environment and animals and see compliance with the 1.5 degree target of the Paris climate protection agreement at risk. Environmental activists accused the Greens of “sacrificing” the town of Lützerath for the agreement with RWE on a coal phase-out in 2030.
That is why there have recently been repeated protests against the advance of opencast mining. The environmentalists joined forces to form the Lützerath action alliance, which also includes Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion and the Last Generation. According to their own statements, they want to fight “for global climate justice” in Lützerath. (AFP/jmh)