Actions by Ende Ende in the Rhineland: At dawn to the blockade

Despite Corona, Endegebiet is again blocking the lignite mine in the Rhineland this weekend. RWE employees act aggressively.

Activists of the orange finger from Ende Terrain at the action in Garzweiler on September 26th Photo: David Young / dpa

GARZWEILER taz | “That doesn’t help,” the policeman says to his colleague, “retreat!” There are only two of them, he gets back into the police car, slams the door and they drive away. The 200 people in the white painters’ suits can continue their way undisturbed on the small country road in the dark. Your destination: Garzweiler, the largest open-cast coal mine in Europe, a good 30 kilometers southwest of Düsseldorf.

From the camps, which this year are small and decentralized in the Rhenish lignite mining area due to the corona hygiene measures, several demonstration trains set off on Saturday morning, September 26, well before sunrise. As in every autumn or late summer since 2015, the climate activists from Endegebiet have again called for actions of massive civil disobedience in the Rhineland this year.

Around 3,000 activists are there – half as many as last year, but still many in view of the corona pandemic and the cold rainy weather. About half of them use the darkness in the early morning hours and leave between four and six in the morning. As has already been tried and tested in the end of the terrain campaigns, the activists have divided themselves into “demo fingers” of 200 people named after colors.

With sunrise and the closer the demo trains get to the coal mine and power plants, the balance of power between police officers and activists changes. The blue-purple finger, which had come unnoticed by train from the camp to the Frimmersdorf train station, is accompanied on the Landstrasse from seven o’clock by a helmeted hundred. A few minutes later, however, the breakthrough came at a fork in the road: Around a hundred activists ran past the officers into a field, scrambled through a ditch, ran across wet grass and bushes towards the coal mine. The officers fail to stop them. A good hundred people slide down the steep embankment into the coal mine.

At the bottom they are stopped by a police chain and around 30 security employees from the coal company RWE. RWE employees in the orange safety vests also attack press representatives aggressively. They pull a journalist to the ground and put him in a headlock. They try to take away the cell phone from others, press them, run after them and try to kick them between the legs.

“We have house rights here and you turn off the camera immediately,” one of them shouts. In some places the police intervened. RWE spokesman Matthias Beigel says: “Nobody has the right to penetrate here, not even the press.” It’s about security.

Successful blockades, but also police violence

The activists from the blue-purple finger of Ende Terrain are finally surrounded by the police and cannot get any closer to the lignite excavators, but they have achieved one goal: The excavators are at a standstill.

At ten o’clock in the morning the alliance at the end of the terrain reports various other successes. Another finger has reached the Weisweiler coal-fired power station, another at the Lausward gas-fired power station. The fact that the activists are also targeting gas infrastructure is new: natural gas is presented far too often in public discourse as a climate-friendly alternative to coal – a “dirty lie”, says the alliance’s spokeswoman Kim Solievna. “It’s insane to invest billions in natural gas, pipelines and fracking ports instead of renewable energies. We’re here to expose natural gas as a climate killer. ”During the extraction, storage and transport of fossil fuels, a lot of climate-hostile methane is released into the atmosphere.

In addition to reports of success, activists also report police violence. In Cologne-Ehrenfeld, helmeted police officers with batons got on a train and hit the activists.

Another demonstration, the golden finger, tries to break out of Camp Keyenberg around noon on Saturday. Most of the activists, however, are quickly pushed back into the camp by the police, including mounted officers. There is an arrest and the finger cannot start for the time being. The village of Keyenberg is one of the six villages that are about to fall victim to the expanding open pit.

A total of 14 fingers should be on the move in the Rhenish lignite mining area at this end of the terrain campaign weekend. Many of the activists are equipped with sleeping bags, sleeping mats and tins. You are preparing to spend the night on rails or in open-cast mines.

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Climate protection and Fridays for Future: dangerous fixation at 1.5 degrees

The climate movement should not make an unattainable goal the sole criterion for making decisions. Otherwise she will never be able to look forward to successes.

As correct as the 1.5 degree target is in theory, it is just as unrealistic in practice Photo: Christian Ditsch / image

On Friday they will protest again on the streets and online: the students of Fridays for Future (FFF) and everyone who shares their demands. And with the motto “No further degrees!” They make it clear what they want: a policy that is suitable “to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius”, according to the central FFF demand. This goal is fundamentally entirely correct.

If the temperature rises by only 1.5 degrees on a global average compared to pre-industrial times, the scientists agree that the rise in sea level, the decline in ecosystems and the increases in extreme weather events will be significantly lower than if the rise was 2 degrees amounts. The probability that irreversible tipping points in the climate system will be exceeded, for example when ice sheets melt or methane is released from the permafrost, increases significantly above 1.5 degrees.

At the same time, the complete fixation on the 1.5-degree target is dangerous. Because if this goal is correct in theory, it is just as unrealistic in practice – even if you are not a pessimist. 1.1 of 1.5 degrees have already been reached. In order to go below the 1.5 mark, changes would be so rapid and so radical – worldwide – that this goal is in fact unattainable. Many scientists also admit that.

Not only the industrialized countries, but all countries would have to have reduced their greenhouse gas emissions to zero between 2050 and 2060; and even then, in most scenarios, there would be negative emissions, i.e. the underground storage of CO2 from biomass incineration, required to achieve the goal.

Imminent resignation

For good reason, the Paris Agreement does not include the 1.5 degree target, but a target of “well below 2 degrees”, combined with “efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees”. In order to put Germany on a reasonably safe 1.5-degree path, the country would have to be climate-neutral by 2026 – which is so unrealistic that the Greens, as a self-declared climate protection party, do not have a concept that is consistent with it.

The fact that the 1.5 degree target is hardly realistic any longer does not mean that it should be given up. Political demands of a movement should not only be based on what is supposedly feasible, but on what is objectively necessary. But it would be wise to view the goal less in absolute terms than is currently the case among climate activists. Because there is often a concern: once the 1.5 degrees are exceeded, everything is too late. And associated with it the criticism: All measures that do not result in the safe compliance with the 1.5 degree target are a disaster. It’s a dangerous strategy.

On the one hand, narrowing to a barely achievable goal can lead to problems with mobilization. If it becomes clear that the 1.5 degrees can no longer be achieved, there is a risk of resignation: Then conveying that the fight for 1.7 or 2.1 degrees is worthwhile becomes all the more difficult, the more in the run-up to the The impression is given that the world can no longer be saved from 1.5 degrees.

On the other hand, with the 1.5-degree goal as the only yardstick, movement takes the opportunity to celebrate successes to which it has contributed. Because they do exist: The announcement by EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that the EU will reduce emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030 compared to 1990 levels is quite spectacular – especially when you consider that it was exactly that before five Years ago, the major German environmental associations and the Greens two years ago. Nonetheless, FFF pioneer Luisa Neubauer reacted to the announcement with biting criticism: The proposal raises the question of “whether the Commission wants to comply with the Paris Agreement at all,” she said.

Coal pushed out of the market

The situation is similar with the latest climate paper by Peter Altmaier: For a long time it reads in such a way that one does not know whether it comes from the CDU economics minister or from Fridays for Future. Of course, one can rightly ask whether there will be any real consequences. But the fact that Altmaier makes the analysis of movement his own, at least on paper, is a relevant shift, because these words will be used to measure him in future.

With coal, too, the situation is far better than the movement’s outrage over the far too late end date suggests: Regardless of this political agreement, coal-fired power plants are currently being pushed out of the market much faster than the Coal Commission had ever hoped – and not only because of Corona, but also because of the higher CO2-Prize of the EU, which is now having an effect for the first time after a hard-fought reform.

The same can be achieved in other areas. The CO2-The price for heating and transport, which the federal government agreed a year ago in the wake of the climate strike, is still too low even after its significant increase by the Federal Council. But it is a step in the right direction that future governments can build on.

Not recognizing such progress, but instead even demonizing it because it does not reach the 1.5 degree goal, is not only dangerous for the further motivation of the striking students. It is also politically counterproductive. Because if it makes no difference in the outrage on the street whether steps backwards, stagnation or too little progress are decided, it is also disheartening for those who struggle within the government for such improvements. A successful climate policy therefore needs both: big goals and sharp criticism – but also an eye for small successes.

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