03 Climate activism, Ende Gelände – 30 October 2018

When the real estate valuation course finished, this coincided with an event of a completely different nature. A visit to Germany. Every year since 2015 a collective called Ende Gelände (meaning here and no further) has organized acts of civil disobedience in the Rhineland to disrupt the mining of brown coal. Brown coal, also known as lignite can be seen as a semi-developed form of (stone) coal, which is scientifically named as anthracite (coal). Coal develops from decaying plant matter which is compressed under heat. Very slowly (we are talking millions of years here) the plant matter changes to peat, then to brown coal, then to bituminous coal and finally into the stony coal that was widely used to heat houses untill the 1960s in the Netherlands. The process is explained in more detail here. Brown coal is the most CO2-intense fossil fuel of all, and the open-pit type of mining destroys precarious ecosystems and pollutes water. In times were many scientist warn governments that CO2 are rising to dangerous levels, brown coal mining is one of the most stupid ways of energy production. And the situation is definitely urgent, only yesterday the news came in that carbon dioxide levels are still on the rise, globally.

Prolonged heat and pressure form different types of coal (image by Union of Concerned Scientists)

Being at the climate camp organized by Ende Gelände was very inspiring in multiple ways. First of all, there were more than 6000 people there, everyone of whom with a strong conviction that we need a nothing less than a system change. And more importantly all of these people were brave enough to stand up for what they believe in and demand change. All this despite large scale repression from the big energy company RWE and a massive police force, who came at them with vans, water guns, choppers and hundreds of riot police officers.

Furthermore many people have interesting visions on what kind of changes are necessary to attain a society that is in balance with its natural surroundings. One of the theories that caught my attention was degrowth theory.

And finally the camp and actions are organized in according to a consensus model, with goal to include all voices. This makes some processes slower than would otherwise be the case, but everyone is heard.