Germany Climate activists regularly target lignite operations in Germany. “The objective of last week’s actions was to accelerate the phase-out of lignite. Last year RWE’s operations were targeted, this year it was ours,” says Sabine Froning, Vice President Public and Regulatory Affairs & Stakeholder Relations at Vattenfall.  

Last weekend more than 1,000 climate activists occupied different areas of Vattenfall’s lignite mine Welzow-Süd and the rails of the coal transport trains. The objective was to stop the fuel supply to the Schwarze Pumpe power plant, thus suspending its operations.
The activists also climbed diggers and transport belts.

Accelerate phase-out
Sabine Froning explains that similar protests have taken place in Germany before and that last week’s events are not connected to the sale of Vattenfall’s lignite operations.
“It is connected to the fact that Ende Gelände, which is the umbrella organisation for the climate activists, is anti-nuclear and anti-coal. But now it focuses very much on coal. So their objective is to accelerate the coal phase-out and make very clear that there is a very large opposition to the continued use of lignite.”

In August 2015, climate activists targeted RWE’s lignite operations where they occupied areas in the Garzweiler opencast mine.
“The activists do not oppose Vattenfall as a foreign energy company. The next big activity for Ende Gelände will probably be at Garzweiler again, I think that they already have announced that,” says Froning and explains that lignite is high on the political agenda in Germany.
“There is a very vivid political debate in relation to Germany’s climate protection target but then also about how to responsibly phase out coal and in which time horizon. Responsibly meaning environmentally responsibly, socially responsibly and also making sure there is a security of supply. So now there is an ongoing debate where time horizons for the phase-out are being discussed. They vary between 2030 to 2050 depending on whom you talk to.” 

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