Hundreds of climate activists stormed a massive open-pit coal mine in Germany on Saturday, entering a standoff with police inside the mine while thousands of others maintained separate blockades of the nation’s coal infrastructure as part of a week-long series of actions designed to end Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels.
Coordinated by the Ende Gelände alliance, the campaigners targeting the Garzweiler mine in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia as they evaded security forces across roads and fields before reaching the pit and descending its banks.
“We are unstoppable,” the activists declared, “another world is possible!”
“This is not only about coal power,” said Sina Reisch, spokeswoman of Ende Gelände, in a statement. “This is about changing a destructive system that is based on the quest for infinite economic growth and exploitation. We are fighting for a future in which people count more than profits.”
Climate justice activists protect themselves from the sun with rescue blankets after they have been encased in the Garzweiler opencast mine by police officers and vehicles of employees of the opencast mine after breaking through a police blockade. The protests for more climate protection in the Rhineland continue. (Photo: Frederico Gambarini/picture alliance via Getty Images)
(Photo: Jens Volle/flickr/cc/Ende Gallende)
This is what it looked like, as one group put it, when “a thousand heroes enter the #Garzweiler mine”: The climate action group 350 Europe said the collective action gave them “chills” to witness:
As clashes began with secrurity forces, the activists declared on social media that they were not the source of the violence and called on the police to withdraw from the area:
With the Garzweiler mine occupation underway, a separate team of Ende Gelände activists on Saturday maintained a blockade of railway tracks leading to the coal-fired Neurath power station, also in Rhineland, that began on Friday. The activists spent the night on the tracks to keep any trains from coming or going.
“This year,” said Nike Malhaus, another spokesperson for Ende Gelände, “the climate justice movement is hitting a new peak. We are more determined, more diverse and more united than ever before. The climate crisis is already a reality, especially for people in the global South. We are bringing the age of fossil fuels to an end today.”
In a tweet on Saturday afternoon, Kathrin Henneberger, another spokersperson for the group, said [English translation]: “This weekend, we have completely shut down the CO2 source in Europe, the Rhineland lignite mining area. No coal train goes to the power plants anymore. No excavator works anymore in the opencast mines. It is amazing !!!! Thanks to all the thousands of brave ones.”