Angela Merkel's not always green record

| |

Spread the love


Yanik Dumont Baron (access the author's page)

It takes several minutes by car to get to where Klaus Emmerich wants to take us. Around us, little vegetation; mostly mounds of earth. Everything is brown, black or gray.

We drive through the heart of the Garzweiler open-cast mine, one of the largest still operating in Europe. It occupies more than 58 square kilometers in the countryside northwest of Cologne.

Klaus Emmerich guides us through this vast labyrinth that he knows well. He has worked there since he was a teenager. Now at the end of his career, he is one of the officials of the employees' union.

Klaus Emmerich in front of the mine.

Klaus Emmerich, one of the officials of the workers' union of the Garzweiler mine, operated by the giant RWE

Photo: Radio-Canada / Yanik Dumont Baron

Here, everything is larger than life: the size of the machines, the length of the private roads and that of the conveyor belts which transport the coal.

It's lignite, which is mined from the basement of this part of the country. A more polluting and less efficient material than black coal … and of which Germany is the world's largest producer.

Crucial coal for the German economy

If we leave lignite alone for a few million more years, we will have diamonds! jokes Klaus Emmerich. But we don't have time …

No time, because you have to extract it and burn it. Coal of all kinds represents about a quarter of all electricity consumed in Germany.

Machinery.

In the Garzweiler mine, lignite is extracted, a material that pollutes more and less efficiently than black coal.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Yanik Dumont Baron

This cheap electricity is popular with large German energy-intensive industries, such as the automobile. Industries that weigh heavily on the country's economy.

Around the mine there are a lot of industries that consume a lot of energy. They are here because electricity is cheap. That represents hundreds of thousands of jobs in the region.

Klaus Emmerich, miner

Man is not against renewable energies, which still provide almost half of Germany's electricity. It is extremely important to continue to develop them, he explains.

Above all, miners want to make sure that their industry does not disappear until they have fully exploited the resources. If we close too quickly, we will not have time to adapt, he said; to find jobs for those who depend on coal.

Machinery.

Garzweiler mine

Photo: Radio-Canada / Yanik Dumont Baron

Angela Merkel is one of the leaders who pushed hard for international agreements on the climate, from the Kyoto protocol in 1997 to the European objectives of reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG), negotiated a few weeks ago in hardly.

But the Chancellor has sometimes bowed to pressure from German industrial lobbies, especially those in the automobile industry. His decision to quickly shut down nuclear power plants also places greater weight on electricity produced from coal.

Under Angela Merkel, governments and industries agreed to stop coal mining by 2038 at the latest. A shorter horizon than expected, but from which the industry intends to derive as much profit as possible.

These villages that will be swallowed up by the mine

It is over there! Do you see the church? On a belvedere overlooking the gigantic mine, Klaus Emmerich points to a steeple barely visible on the horizon.

This church sits in a small village three kilometers as the crow flies. This is the direction in which the excavators at the Garzweiler mine are moving. The village is called to disappear.

Abandoned houses.

The vast majority of the houses in Lützerath are empty, ready to be demolished. Private guards prevent militants from occupying them.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Yanik Dumont Baron

We need a lot of energy! launches the miner. We need jobs for all Germans.

It takes about 15 minutes by car to exit the mine and reach Lützerath, one of the five villages that will soon be destroyed by coal mining.

We come to meet Eckhardt Heukamp, ​​a small farmer who is also the last of the inhabitants to resist the financial offers of the mining giant RWE.

My situation is excellent here. My house is surrounded by fields. I have lots of room. With the money RWE offers me, I will never be able to find her anywhere else.

Eckhardt Heukamp, ​​farmer
Eckhardt Heukamp is pointing at something.

Eckhardt Heukamp is a small farmer from Lützerath, one of five villages that will soon be destroyed by coal mining.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Yanik Dumont Baron

In front of his ancestral home, Eckhardt Heukamp points to empty spaces. Trees and houses already destroyed by the mining company. Waste land waiting to be dug.

The farmer throws a stone at Angela Merkel and German politicians. He considers them to be less serious on climate issues and too dependent on mining industry dollars.

<q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" Français "}," value ": {" html ":" It is easily seen in the decisions of politicians, says M.Heukamp. Of course, you can't give up mining overnight. But there are also plenty of businesses in Germany that are shutting down. And these are7000, 8000 or 10000 people who lose their jobs. "," Text ":" It is easily seen in the decisions of politicians, affirms Mr Heukamp. Of course, you can't give up mining overnight. But there are also plenty of businesses in Germany that are shutting down. And these are 7000, 8000 or 10000 people who lose their jobs. "}}" Lang = "en”>It is easily seen in the decisions of politicians, says Heukamp. Of course, you can't give up mining overnight. But there are also plenty of businesses in Germany that are shutting down. And these are 7000, 8000 or 10,000 people who lose their jobs.

A brick wall barred with slogans

Slogans and insults inscribed on the walls of a house to be demolished shortly in Lützerath

Photo: Radio-Canada / Yanik Dumont Baron

Eckhardt Heukamp refuses to accept a compensation offer from the mining company. He hopes to preserve his ancestral home, but also to denounce the power of the coal industry.

He allowed a handful of activists to occupy one of his properties; young adults, especially, who hope to stop the advance of the excavators and protect the village.

Not the climate chancellor

This mine is useless, says the regional spokesperson for Bund, one of Germany’s largest environmental groups.

Dirk Jansen accuses Angela Merkel of having forged an international image of a green leader that no longer matches the reality of the country.

You could say she's an opportunist. She has always supported the coal industry. She signaled the end of this industry far too late and far too timidly. Because of this, Germany risks never meeting its international obligations.

Dirk Jansen, environmentalist
Dirk Jansen in his office.

Dirk Jansen, regional spokesperson for Bund, one of Germany’s largest environmental groups

Photo: Radio-Canada / Yanik Dumont Baron

The proof is in the data: GHG emissions have declined little under Merkel. In 2020, Germany did well on its reduction targets, but this is mainly due to the economic slowdown linked to the pandemic.

For the German Chancellor, it was the economic crisis of 2008 that seemed to have marked a turning point. Jobs and the economy were better than saving the climate.

She will not go down in history as chancellor of the climate, predicts Karl-Rudolf Korte, political scientist at Duisburg-Essen University, but rather as a guide in crises.

Angela Merkel reiterates that she would have liked to do more. But she wanted to remain pragmatic, seeking to meet the expectations of Germans today while keeping their grandchildren in mind.

Karl-Rudolf Korte, political scientist
A sign with Stop written on it.

Garzweiler mine

Photo: Radio-Canada / Yanik Dumont Baron

A logical choice in the eyes of Klaus Emmerich, who works in the coal industry, like his father and grandfather before him.

We want real jobs to support the region, he says. Not jobs in small logistics companies that pay 6 euros an hour.

In his small threatened village, Eckhardt Heukamp, ​​he already sees fences appearing around the houses which will soon be demolished. He himself is not delusional and resigns himself to moving soon.

<q data-attributes = "{" lang ": {" value ":" fr "," label ":" Français "}," value ": {" html ":" Under the village, there is a lot of coal: 40meters thick. It remains very profitable. The politicians are behind the business, behind the destruction of the village. "," Text ":" Under the village, there is a lot of coal: 40 meters thick. It remains very profitable. The politicians are behind the business, behind the destruction of the village. "}}" Lang = "en”>Under the village, there is a lot of coal: 40 meters thick. It remains very profitable. The politicians are behind the business, behind the destruction of the village.

It will be very difficult to avoid it, he admits. I can't help it.

A text by Yanik Dumont Baron, correspondent in Europe

Read also :

  • Fight against global warming: Germany's results pale those of Canada
  • Germany, a class leader in energy
  • 15 years ago Angela Merkel broke a glass ceiling


Spread the love
Previous

Conte invokes the risk of citizen "rage" to try to save his Government in the Senate | International

Trump Names Yemen's Huthi Terrorists Despite UN Warnings | International

Next

Leave a Comment

Adblock
detector