Thousands protest against coal

Thousands protest against coal

Thousands of people protested against coal in the rhenish coalfield on saturday and disrupted the open pit mining operation – despite a large police presence.

According to police reports, some 2,500 young people sat down on the tracks of the transport train that brings coal from the rhenish open-cast mine of hambach to the power plants.

The activists wanted to paralyze the open-cast mining infrastructure in the rhenish mining area. Because some broke through a police cordon and ran across the A4 autobahn, it had to be closed for several hours. For the same reason, the train service between duren and aachen was temporarily suspended.

The young people on the rails of RWE’s coal transport railroad shouted rhythmically: "we are unstoppable, another world is possible."(we are unstoppable, another world is possible). Almost all of them wore the dark white dust suits that are so typical for the mass actions of the end of the country action group. There was singing and cheering.

18 demonstrators also occupied an excavator at the hambach open pit mine. RWE then shut down the excavator for safety reasons. The energy company announced that it would consistently report crimes such as trespassing to the police.

RWE announced that its lignite roadmap to reduce CO2 emissions would contribute to achieving national climate goals. For the mostly young activists, this is not fast enough: they wanted to set an example for an immediate coal phase-out and climate justice.

The action alliance ende gelande spoke of the largest "mass action of civil disobedience of the climate justice movement" to date with 6500 activists. The parliamentary observer of the left in the bundestag, lorenz gosta beutin, said the peaceful protests were a strong sign for climate protection and the coal phase-out.

The effort was a matter of tactics, among police and activists. So it almost seemed like a feint when a group of 250 people first tried to enter the open pit mine inden. They were prevented from doing so by the task force and taken into custody. Police also used pepper spray and batons, according to a spokesman.

A live video shows how the activists very quickly leave buses in an open field and within sight of the open pit mine and run toward it. Police officers accompanying the buses in squad cars cut them off.

There were critical situations on the day – for example, on the A4 near kerpen, where young people ran across the highway in the direction of the hambach open-cast mine. Police closed the highway for hours and used water cannons. Nevertheless, isolated demonstrators broke through. Subsequent activists were then able to hold off the action forces for the most part at the highway embankment.

According to the police and RWE, the situation was also dangerous on the edge of the hambach open pit mine. The police warned activists who were standing there: "there are currently landslides at the edge of the open pit mine in hambach." The demonstrators should leave the edge of the open pit mine. "There is acute danger to life," police tweeted.

Associations such as robin wood, naturfreunde deutschland and the campaign network campact had called for a solidarity rally with the activists in kerpen-buir at hambacher forest. There were fewer than expected, with up to 3,000 participants. In recent weeks, the voices of local residents who are annoyed by the constant conflict outside their homes have become increasingly loud.

The conflict is also about the jobs of the miners in the industry. At their vigil, RWE employees demonstrated for the preservation of their jobs. "We offer the people a coffee or a sausage and discuss with them," said RWE works council member franz-peter linxen. The employees fear that they will lose their jobs if the coal phase-out proceeds too quickly.

Exit to be completed without layoffs, coal commission envisions. Ronald poppalla, one of the commission’s chairmen, told the WDR magazine "westpol" that the commission had decided that there would be no redundancies as a result of the coal phase-out. Among other things, the commission is to recommend a timetable for the coal phase-out.

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