by Klimacamp im Rheinland
In August, the 6th Climate Camp in the Rhineland (Germany) will take place. From the 7-17th August there will be 10 days full of workshops, networking, exploring sustainable lifestyles, and direct action.
Why a Climate Camp, anyway?
With its three open cast mines and five power plants, the Rhineland coalfield is Europe’s biggest emittant of carbon dioxide. The power plant Niederaußem alone emits about 29 million tons of CO2 per year. That is almost one ton per second — more than one person in Bangladesh causes in a whole year. While the ailing power company RWE can make a lot of profit with that, it means the loss of their livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people especially in the global south. This year’s Climate Camp will most likely take place in the immediate vicinity to the open cast mine Garzweiler, right where the destruction of the global climate begins.
Despite the highly publicised energy transition, lignite (brown coal) is experiencing a renaissance.
The extraction of coal has disastrous consequences on a local level aswell. Entire villages are being excavated, precious famland destroyed, tens of thousands of people relocated. Important ecosystems, such as the Hambach Forest, are cleared. The ground water is drained so that it doesn’t flood the pits. All this has negative effects on both agriculture and the wetlands, as far as into the Netherlands. It also causes subsidence damage to buildings in the area around the mines, but also in most parts of Northrhine-Westphalia. The bucketwheel excavators that run day and night stir up huge amounts of course dust and fine dust. Radioactive elements such as uranium or the mine gas methane are also set free.
Despite the highly publicised energy transition, lignite (brown coal) is experiencing a renaissance. In 2013 Germany converted more lignite into electricity than ever before in the last 20 years. The alleged showpiece country of energy transition has a share of 25% of climate harming lignite in its energy mix. Two more block-unit power stations are being planned. If it was up to the energy company RWE (Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk), open cast mining in the Rhineland would go on until at least 2045.
To tackle the roots of excessive CO2-emissions political framework conditions have to change.
At the same time the climate crisis intensifies. CO2 emissions increase globally in spite of all the climate summits and lip-services of the ruling politicians. Extreme weather phenomena — floods, droughts hurricanes — appear more and more often. Species become extinct, fertile soils become deserts, and diseases are spreading. The results are poverty, a lack of drinking water, famines, flight for millions of people. If the CO2 emissions aren’t lowered drastically we are soon to expect so called tipping points. This means that feedback effects occur, like thawing permafrost soils and the resulting emission of methane, which again accelerates climate change and puts it way out of human control.
The Climate Camp is based upon 4 pillars — alternative life, education, networking, and direct action — to oppose this madness most effectively and to provide different forms of resistance.
Living Together Sustainably
The Climate Camp wants to be as resource-saving as possible and to allow for a direct-democratic life together in solidarity. It offers an alternative to the consumerist, capitalist way of life, in which some people are living at the expenses of others. The mobile kitchen is cooking organic and vegan food, the electricity is almost exclusively generated with renewable energy sources such as solar power and wind power, and the compost toilet doesn’t need any chemicals nor does it pollute any water.
The Climate Camp is supposed to be a space for emancipatory education. Knowledge will be shared to understand the complex connections in our society and to draw conclusions from that.
Besides the issues of energy and climate this year’s programme also focuses on the climate movement; what has happened over the last years, what is going on right now and where we are headed. We can only create a socially just energy transition if we have a thorough, buttom-up climate movement fighting both in the Rhineland and for climate justice in the global south.
Actions against climate change can be way more than just buying a socket panel to actually turn your electronic devices off. To tackle the roots of excessive CO2-emissions political framework conditions have to change. To accomplish this we need a social movement which is at least as broad and effective as the German anti-nuclear-movement and goes beyond UN-climate summits and advice on how to save energy. The streets, the train tracks, and the mine — this is where climate change needs to be attacked.
News of catastrophies can be paralysing if we sit alone in front of the TV or a newspaper. It is important to overcome this paralisation and separation and to instead join forces. At the Camp people from all over the world will meet, people who are fighting the destruction of nature in various ways, who are fighting for a just society. The camp offers a space to network and exchange experiences.
Different spectrums and people are going to be addressed, whether they are members of environmental and development organisations, political parties, trade unions, or they’re local residents, radical leftists, and anarchists. We will try to link the issues of different political struggles with the climate topic, such as the anti-nuclear-movement, the anti-racism-movement, and the anti-militarism-movement.
Degrowth & Climate Justice
There will be another camp accompanying Climate Camp. The Degrowth-Summer School puts their focus on climate justice this year, from the 9th-14th August. Climate movements are often confronted with criticism arguing that a radical energy transition is not possible. Some possible answers can be found at this year’s summer school.
What would a world after capitalism look like? How can we make a social-ecological transformation of economic conditions possible? How can we establish a working environment without burn-out and pressure to perform? These are only some of the questions that we are going to address in workshops, penal discussions and multi-day courses. Degrowth needs to become practical…
Ende Gelände – Leave the Coal in the Hole
This year the movement will be even bigger! A mass action of civil disobedience is going to take place from the 14th – 16th of August alongside the Climate Camp and the Degrowth Summer School. The alliance ‘Ende Gelände‘ is mobilising all over Europe to disturb the operational procedures in the lignite mine in various ways. Every person shall have the opportunity to join the action, regardless of their prior experience with civil disobedience and direct action.
Whether it’s the participation in the rally, demonstrating on the edge of the mine, or the direct disturbance of the excavators or other kinds of infrastructure, everything shall be part of a peaceful and determined action which wants to stop climate change right where it’s made — in the coalfield in the Rhineland, next to Cologne.