A German village near Roermond loses the battle against a lignite mine

Environmental Protection Agency

NOS . News

  • Job Auerbach

    Berlin office editor

  • Job Auerbach

    Berlin office editor

It is a small deserted village that seems to have little meaning. However, the German city of Lützerath in North Rhine-Westphalia, about thirty kilometers across the border at Roermond, is an icon of the German debate between economics and climate.

For some time now, the RWE power group under Lützerath has wanted to extract lignite. Giant excavators have already approached the village a few hundred meters away. To the alarm and resistance of the climate activists who occupy the village. The natives have long since left.

coal demolition

However, activists risk losing their years of struggle. Minister for Economic Affairs Habeck (The Greens), together with the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the RWE, has decided that Lützerath may be demolished to build the lignite mine.

“A necessary decision,” said Minister of State Newport. According to her, coal is needed to secure Germany’s energy supply in the current energy crisis.

France Press agency

This is what the lignite region in western Germany looks like

But the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) describes the opening of new lignite mines as unnecessary. Their research shows that new mines for energy supplies are not value-added. Because German law requires the use of coal to cease in 2038, new mines will not be profitable. In addition, DIW also considers it irresponsible for the climate.

Neubaur rejects the criticism and points out that lignite could indeed be of importance in the energy crisis. It also confirms that this decision is part of a compromise between the government and RWE.

The energy giant will get permission to mine lignite at Lützerath and in return will stop extracting and using coal as early as 2030. So eight years earlier than planned Kohleaustieg.

The resistance continues

group activist Lotzerat Lipt He has been fighting for years to keep the village. With around 100 people still present, activists occupy the village and stage protest demonstrations. The group found Neubaur, RWE and Minister Habeck’s decision opaque and critical of the promised Kohlenausstieg.

“It only exists on paper. Reality is obscured,” the organization’s spokesman said. The group is also critical of the Green Party, the political party of ministers Habek and Neubauer, which was born out of the climate movement. “The Greens have given up their basic activities. They have given up on the 1.5-degree heating limit.”

France Press agency

Activists in Lotzerat

Activists will not let her go. They announced that on the day the RWE begins clearing the village, activists will try to stop it as many people as possible. “Over 10,000 people have already announced that they are coming through a petition. Today we call it ‘X’.” The exact date of the demolition is not yet known.

The split between the greens

Activist organizations do not only criticize the Green Party. The Lützerath affair also causes a split within the party itself. Habek and Neubauer are particularly criticized by the youth department.

This weekend, members of the Green Party will gather for a party conference in Bonn. The co-chair of the youth branch, Timon Dzenos, wants the party to speak out in favor of retaining Lotzerth.

Perhaps this decision will not change. But the divisions among the Greens show how Lützerath symbolizes the struggle. It is between economic interests and the climate.

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