Petra van der Kooij
It was a Friday, it was deep winter in Sweden, it was the evening we decided to bike from Copenhagen to Paris – to connect places, to connect people, to connect symbols and to make a stand against climate change. Once the idea was born, the next step was to decide the route. It was clear to us that passing through Germany’s controversial coal region was a great way to strengthen our message, raising awareness of what is happening there and making it clear that this is not how we want our energy to be generated.
And we are not the only ones. In August I joined a large action organised to stop the lignite mining activities in the Rhineland. Our message? “Stop digging, keep it in the ground!”
Germany is considered progressive in its energy policy and use of renewables. Yet at the same time, coal extraction in the country is still going on – and is even set to increase in the coming years. This makes the area around the mines on of the saddest places I have ever seen. It is surrounded by empty villages. Villages that still show signs of the life that was once there. Roses growing in the gardens, an apple tree giving apples and the sign of the bakery that provided the people with their daily bread. But the people are all gone. They’ve left their homes so the coal extraction can continue.
Everyone involved in the action this summer disagrees with this policy and wants to stop these actions. It’s why we came together from different places across the globe – to stand in solidarity for people that are already facing the consequences of climate change and to make it clear that if we want to keep the temperature rise below 2oC we need to to keep the fossil fuels in the ground. This August we were more than 1,000 people walking through the bright morning light. We faced the police and reached our goal, the lignite mine. The action succeeded and we stopped the mining activities. This time just for one day, but the message is clear. We must step up and stop coal extraction – and the irreversible climate change that comes with it.
The Cooperide connects to and extends this message, taking it all the way to Paris in December. Show your support and keep up to date with our plans and preparations by liking our Facebook page and sharing our news.