Lützerath – the town where the future hangs in the balance


This is a battle whose outcome plays an essential role for the future of the world. A battle that, according to one side, has already been lost, and on the other, will continue, now more than ever and with the solidarity of dozens of national and international groups.

This is Lützerath, a small town in western Germany that is disappearing due to the production of lignite coal, which in turn will have fatal consequences, not only for Germany but for the entire world.

Since January 11th, 2023, police forces and private security forces have been evicting the town that was occupied since 2020 by activists to prevent the expansion of the Garzweiler II coal mine and to give a warning against climate-damaging policies.

The coal mine belongs to the RWE energy company, which together with the government of North Rhine-Westphalia, justifies the extraction of coal, even underground, with the need for coal in the energy supply. “Lützerath low coal (…) is necessary to ensure a secure supply to power plants in the midst of the energy crisis.”

On the other hand, activists, experts and non-governmental organizations argue that this is not the case, that there are studies and opinions that indicate that Lützerath can be kept as it is. “Science says it clearly: coal must stay underground, we must stop the destruction of our planet”, declared Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, a key figure in the climate justice movement.

Both sides present scientific studies. An opinion commissioned by RWE itself implies that without the coal under Lützerath the energy supply in Germany will not be secure and that “all necessary authorizations and permits have been obtained.” Another opinion shows other results: the quantities of lignite in the mining area currently worked by RWE are sufficient, even if coal consumption were to increase significantly again after 2025. “Therefore, there is neither an energy-economic need nor a a political-climate justification for reclaiming still inhabited towns near the Garzweiler II open pit mine, including Lützerath.”

Since its occupation, Lützerath has become an international symbol of the movement against climate change and capitalist politics. Activists declare that “if you dig for this coal, you are taking away climate targets, you are throwing away the Paris Agreement.” It means that if RWE mines the coal below Lützerath, Germany will not meet the obligations of the Paris Agreement, above all the set target of keeping human-caused global warming below 1.5 degrees will not be achieved, which will have disastrous consequences for the entire planet.

German activist Luisa Neubauer said in an interview that “the world is watching, because we are also fighting for them, using our privileges, fulfilling our responsibilities here.” And yes, the world is watching. Several international groups expressed solidarity with the struggle among the German people, including the EZLN, the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defense of Land and Territory (APIIDTT), Future Indigenous Peoples and the Yucpas of Latin America, the “Make Rojava Green Again”, and the “Rise up Movement” of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

From afar they sent solidarity greetings to Germany, especially on January 14th, 2023, the day an alliance of various groups, formed to prevent the destruction of the town, organized a demonstration to which 35,000 people joined, according to the organizers. Several demonstrators protested peacefully, but there were still violent clashes between activists and the police during the demonstration, which produced images of war: thousands of demonstrators and hundreds of policemen, like confronting walls, waiting in the open field and in the rain, just a few meters away to the mine and the town. Some 80 police officers and some 300 activists were injured, some of whom have been hospitalized. They accused each other of being violent.

On January 16th, 2023 the last two occupants, who resisted for several days in a tunnel built by themselves under Lützerath, have left voluntarily, they expressed that “the tunnel itself is of no importance, the most crucial question is why it was built and occupied” and further, considering the violence, that “there is a right to refuse to serve and all the police forces involved in the eviction deliberately chose to contribute to the climate catastrophe there.”

As long as coal remains underground, activists will continue to speak out against open pit mining and politics, nationally and internationally.

Original article at https://sipazen.wordpress.com/2023/01/24/international-lutzerath-the-town-where-the-future-hangs-in-the-balance/

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