Ende Gelände is a broad and fast-growing grassroots movement that organises actions of mass civil disobedience against the use of coal power, engaging many thousands of people in the fight for climate justice. Given that the impending climate crisis has received overwhelming legitimacy from the scientific community, it is clear that as a species we need to take urgent action, but no adequate response has come from the parliamentary processes. Even the moderate German climate protection targets to stop lignite mining by the middle of the century will not be met. Therefore, Ende Gelände is taking responsibility for climate protection and seeks to stop lignite mining with civil disobedience.
At the very root of the problem, lies the capitalistic focus on profit maximisation; the one variable that correlates most strongly with CO2-emissions is economic growth. In the end, we will not be able to control climate change, if we cannot overcome economic growth itself. The coal power phase-out will have to be fought for from below, by social movements and civil society, given that the fossil fuel industry has no interest in it and the political process is too slow to respond to the urgency of climate change. To spread and visualize this mission, Ende Gelände enables diverse, creative & open mass actions of civil disobedience as in the Rhineland 2015 (https://2015.ende-gelaende.org/en/the_action.html) and in Lusatia 2016 (https://2016.ende-gelaende.org/en/). Some people protested on the edge of the pit, others blocked the diggers in the mine or occupied the tracks the coal trains run on, as well as other infrastructure of the mine. In Lusatia they succeeded in stopping coal production for 48 hours. This year, they are going to have two big actions in the Rhineland Area.
Ende Gelände work together with a broad alliance of grassroots groups, NGOs and international climate justice groups. They pay special attention to the needs of local communities and stand in solidarity with the most impacted communities in the region and the global South. With their highly visible mass actions, they are able to create a broad discussion about issues such as energy production, climate change and market fundamentalist structures within society at large. In the aftermath of both of their past actions, there were discussions about these issues at the state parliaments for several weeks. With the interventions, they build short-term pressure on the political parties and forced them to argue for a quicker coal phase-out. At the same time, they focus on long-term movement building to build people-power and shift the societal hegemony. They are building a locally rooted movement to fight the fossil fuel industry wherever necessary. Their mass actions are low-level and inclusive because they are convinced that all individuals are capable to pattern political issues. It is their vision that every single woman and man feels empowered to participate in social and political processes. In order to motivate people to do so, they offer many action trainings and careful preparation. That’s how they empower new people who have never participated in an action before to join them. There is no other organisation in Germany which brings that many people together to participate in actions of civil disobedience for climate justice, and which manages to create such a high degree of legitimacy around such actions. They are a diverse and colourful movement. Through the aesthetics of the participants wearing white painting suits and dust masks occupying the dirty mining territory they produce very powerful images through which we transport our message to the media and civil society. This year’s UN-climate conference is a perfect opportunity to get global attention and to reveal that Germany’s image as a pioneering-country in the energy transition is a lie.
From 24th to 29th of August the Ende Gelände action of civil disobedience will take place in the Rhineland. Thousands of activists from all over Europe are going to block mining infrastructure to stand up for a just energy transition. During the action they will remain calm and cool-headed and they will be trained to behave in a way that is completely peaceful. Escalation will not be provoked by their side. They will not put people in danger. Ende Gelände activists will simply block and occupy with their bodies, but will not destroy or damage any machinery or infrastructure in the process. They will pass through or around the cordons and barriers set up by police and pit security, and will not respond to provocation. The action will convey an image of diversity, creativity and openness. The action is part of a bigger event called “Aktionstage”. Within one week different groups from local initiatives, various climate camps, environmental protection organizations and climate activists from all over Europe ring in the coal phase-out in Germany. The way into the coal pit, on top of the digger or on to the railways causes many expenses. The most difficult costs to cover are those with direct relation to the action and it is these expenses that the Guerrilla grant will cover. This includes but is not limited to, the white painter suits that are now Ende Gelände’s iconic look, mouth pieces to protect the activists from breathing the coal dust, the ‘Demokratiebrillen’, a self made protection made from cling film to protect oneself from pepper spray.