I’m not a big fan of pictures of myself. To prove why see the picture that was taken from me during the demo that I was in at Immerath this weekend. I don’t know what happened but if I didn’t know better I would say I look constipated. For many people at the Klimacamp it was quite the opposite. Unfortunately there was a stomach virus going around which caused the shit to hit the fan. I’ll spare you the gory details but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.
For the people still living in the villages surrounding the Lignite mines in the area this is a daily reality. Although for them it is proverbial, not literal, shit hitting the fan. The demo we had went straight through the village of Immerath, a ghost town. I think there were only three families still living there. And after they had dug up the cemetery probably even the ghosts had left.
These people are living right in the middle of one of Europe’s sacrifice zones. Their lives and the place they live deemed worth less than the lignite being excavated. At the same time destroying the landscape and being the biggest source of CO2 emissions in Europe.
For us it was easy. We could just come and go when we had enough. A little discomfort with the virus is all we had to endure. For the people living there it is not that easy. The only options they have is sticking it out, hoping that RWE comes to their senses, go bankrupt and stops digging or being re-located to a different village and leaving everything that they love about where they live behind. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.
But even if they are in a rather crappy situation I’ve found that they got some hope from us being there. It showed them that we know their struggles and that they are still there. That there are people that do care and show solidarity with them. Unfortunately there are no easy solutons to the situation they are facing but we can make sure they are not being forgotten.
Back home in the Netherlands we have our own sacrifice zone in the Northern province of Groningen. Since the early sixties we have been extracting gas after the discovery of a large gasfield at Slochteren. Since 1986 this has been causing earthquakes which have damaged a lot of houses and disrupted the lives of people living there.
People feel that their safety is being sacrificed for the short-term monetary gain. The last couple of years decisions were made to scale down the production but it is not enough. In order to gaurantee the safety of the people in Groningen and meet our emission reductions targets we need to completely stop gas extraction.
To empower the people in Groningen and show solidarity with them Fossielvrij.NL is organising a training weekend from 23-25 September in Assen which coincides with a big action at the HQ of the NAM ( Shell / Exxon). You are all invited to show the people of Groningen that they are not being forgotten. See you there!
Pictures: Klimacamp im Rheinland Flickr
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