Climate activism: Greta Thunberg visits Lützerath – demolition has already begun

climate activism
Greta Thunberg visits Lützerath – demolition has already begun

The climate activists Luisa Neubauer and Greta Thunberg stand on the third day of the eviction in the brewery occupied by climate activists

The climate activists Luisa Neubauer and Greta Thunberg stand on the third day of the eviction in the lignite town of Lützerath, which is occupied by climate activists. photo

© Federico Gambarini/dpa

After just three days, the evacuation of Lützerath is almost complete. While the first buildings of the protest village were demolished, prominent visitors emerged. A large rally is planned for Saturday.

The Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg visited Lützerath on Friday and sharply criticized the actions of the police during the evacuation of the village. “It’s outrageous how police violence is,” said Thunberg.

In the to erkelenz belonging to the site on the edge of the Rhenish lignite mining area, the end of the clearing that began on Wednesday was already evident on Friday. While climate activists were being carried out of the last building they occupied, the demolition of farmer Eckardt Heukamp’s former farm was already beginning. On the wall of the courtyard, visible from afar, was a yellow banner with the inscription “1.5°C means: Lützerath stays!” hung – this wall has now been demolished. The Heukamp-Hof had been seen in the background of many protest actions for years and had a correspondingly high symbolic value.

Thunberg now toured the village and the crater of the brown coal mine, holding up a sign that read “Keep it in the ground.” Lützerath is to be demolished so that the energy company RWE can excavate the coal underneath. “It’s horrifying to see what’s happening here,” said Thunberg. On Saturday she will take part in the planned rally for the preservation of Lützerath, she announced. When governments and corporations work together in this way to destroy the environment and endanger countless people, the population must speak out against it. “We want to show what people power looks like, what democracy looks like.” According to the police Thousands of participants expected.

CSU: “Thunberg makes common with criminals”

Minister of the Interior Herbert Reul (CDU) told the “Bild” newspaper that anyone in North Rhine-Westphalia could demonstrate, “including Ms. Thunberg, who was traveling from afar.” He hopes that she will ensure that her comrades-in-arms remain peaceful. Harsh criticism of Thunberg came from the CSU. Stefan Müller, parliamentary director of the CSU parliamentary group, said “Bild”: “Greta Thunberg drives to Lützerath, although police officers are attacked there with stones and firecrackers. With her visit, Thunberg knowingly makes common with these criminals.”

Of the several hundred climate activists who had occupied Lützerath, only a few dozen were left on Friday. The others had left voluntarily or been taken away by the police. Some still held out in tree houses. Two activists in a tunnel gave the police the biggest headache. Aachen police chief Dirk Weinspach climbed a little way into the tunnel shaft himself. The rescue of the two people would have to take over the special forces of the fire brigade and the THW, he said afterwards. “I just think it’s terrible what dangers these people take on themselves.” The construction is anything but safe.

At the Jackerath motorway junction on the 44 motorway near the opencast lignite mine, climate activists climbed onto gantries in two places in the afternoon. An Aachen police spokesman confirmed a corresponding report by a dpa reporter. The highway was closed for safety reasons, said the police spokesman. The demonstrators would be taken down from the gantries. According to WDR, there were several kilometers of traffic jams there.

Chancellor Scholz: “Border where protest becomes violent”

Chancellor Olaf Scholz criticized parts of the protests. “I also used to demonstrate more often. However, for me there is a limit that runs exactly where protest becomes violent,” said the SPD politician of the “wochentaz”. Scholz did not accept criticism that the development of the lignite deposits under Lützerath would jeopardize the climate goals: “This accusation is not true. It’s exactly the opposite: we make politics so that we can achieve our climate goals.”

Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) also showed little understanding for the protests against the demolition of Lützerath. “There are many good reasons to demonstrate for more climate protection, for example against the Greens. But Lützerath is simply the wrong symbol,” Habeck told the “Spiegel”.

The village is not the symbol for a continuation of the Garzweiler lignite mine in the Rhineland, but “it’s the end of the line,” said Habeck. The coal phase-out in the local coal mining area is preferred by eight years to 2030, which was always the goal of the climate movement. “We save five villages and farms with around 450 residents. The Hambacher Forest has been secured. The approved mining volume for coal in opencast mines was halved as a result of the agreement.”

2000 Greens write an open letter against the eviction

But meanwhile there are rumblings at the party base of the Greens: By Friday morning, more than 2,000 Greens members had signed an open letter against the eviction. Habeck and NRW Economics Minister Mona Neubaur are asked in the letter to stop the action immediately. The “negotiated deal with the energy company RWE threatens to break with the principles of our party,” it says. The co-federal spokesman for the Green Youth, Timon Dzienus, warned of the Greens becoming alienated from the climate movement. “Right now the Greens need the support of the climate movement,” he told the news portal “t-online”. “The RWE deal doesn’t help at all.”

According to a survey by the ZDF “Politbarometer”, a majority of Germans are against the expansion of the lignite mining areas, as is currently planned after the evacuation of Lützerath. 59 percent of respondents spoke out against such an expansion – 33 percent are in favor. Above all, a clear majority (87 percent) of Green voters are against the project. On the other hand, 60 percent of all respondents believe that greater use of coal-fired power plants to secure the power supply is correct. 36 percent are against it.


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