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What Germany Can Teach the US About Quitting Coal

By Dan Gearino - Inside Climate News, October 15, 2020

In Lusatia, there is a saying: “God created the beautiful landscape, and the devil put the coal underneath it.”

For generations, this region in the former East Germany depended on coal for jobs and stability. Coal companies bought up villages and fields and cleared them to make way for vast surface mines, because coal was more valuable than real estate. Almost all that was left were occasional stone markers and a few relocated buildings like churches.

But now that era is ending.

Germany is in the middle of a painful and expensive process of quitting coal, with the government approving a plan this year to close the last coal-fired power plant by 2038. And Lusatia must look toward a new way of life.

The break from coal is one of the most contentious parts of Germany’s transition to clean energy, a national effort started in earnest in 2000, with policies that led to a massive expansion of solar and wind energy and helped to decentralize the energy system through the growth of citizen-owned power cooperatives.

“We have the chance to create something new in this area that is special,” said Sören Hoika, who grew up within earshot of a mine in Lusatia and is now co-owner of a tour business.

For Hoika, it is a time of opportunity, as tourism and other industries are poised to grow, some of them tied to a network of manmade lakes that the government has built by redeveloping old mine sites. For many of the miners and their families, though, it is a time of loss and struggle.

An Open Letter to Extinction Rebellion

By Wretched of the Earth - Common Dreams, May 4, 2019

This letter was collaboratively written with dozens of aligned groups. As the weeks of action called by Extinction Rebellion were coming to an end, our groups came together to reflect on the narrative, strategies, tactics and demands of a reinvigorated climate movement in the UK. In this letter we articulate a foundational set of principles and demands that are rooted in justice and which we feel are crucial for the whole movement to consider as we continue constructing a response to the ‘climate emergency’.

Dear Extinction Rebellion,

The emergence of a mass movement like Extinction Rebellion (XR) is an encouraging sign that we have reached a moment of opportunity in which there is both a collective consciousness of the immense danger ahead of us and a collective will to fight it. A critical mass agrees with the open letter launching XR when it states “If we continue on our current path, the future for our species is bleak.”

At the same time, in order to construct a different future, or even to imagine it, we have to understand what this “path” is, and how we arrived at the world as we know it now. “The Truth” of the ecological crisis is that we did not get here by a sequence of small missteps, but were thrust here by powerful forces that drove the distribution of resources of the entire planet and the structure of our societies. The economic structures that dominate us were brought about by colonial projects whose sole purpose is the pursuit of domination and profit. For centuries, racism, sexism and classism have been necessary for this system to be upheld, and have shaped the conditions we find ourselves in.

Another truth is that for many, the bleakness is not something of “the future”. For those of us who are indigenous, working class, black, brown, queer, trans or disabled, the experience of structural violence became part of our birthright. Greta Thunberg calls world leaders to act by reminding them that “Our house is on fire”. For many of us, the house has been on fire for a long time: whenever the tide of ecological violence rises, our communities, especially in the Global South are always first hit. We are the first to face poor air quality, hunger, public health crises, drought, floods and displacement.

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