“This is no exception. It wont get any better.”
This was the conclusion of Nico Froidsheim in the RWe-tribunal that took place last weekend in Lützerath, regarding the climate crisis. The tribunal was – from the 18th to 20th June – concerned with the consequences of RWE’s actions and some of it pretty well known already: That (forced) resettlements take place to enlarge mines won’t be a surprise to many and that coal fires up the climate crisis massively most will know. But what about the health effects of coal”processing”, what about those of RWe’s black coal imports – for example for the power plant Datteln iV in NRW – on the live and environment of indigenous groups in Russia?
These were topics covered in the tribunal and that are important to understand why the protest against RWE is so important, because what happens – be it recurring droughts and cases of intense rain or the exploitation of indigenous groups – is no exception and if we don’t act, nothing will get better for sure.
“Who will oppose the power of money?
This question was asked by the first witness of the tribunal Elisabeth, regarding the seemingly unlimited means RWE has to continue the destruction of nature and villages.
The question of the influence of money came up again and again when the resettlements were concerned. Elisabeth said: ” Who sells first will get the best price.” She pointed out that money is invested were it has a high publicity effect, which is enforced by the statements of Willhelm Hoffmann. He reported of his experiences at the Hambach open pit mine and added that RWE held back 20% of the sum until the move was completed.
Apart from the financial aspect, the psychological and social consequences on the concerned persons were perceptible. Elisabeth spoke about how the resettlement process lead to a split in her family. Petra from Immerath said that they “could not bear it, that constant seesaw” and mentioned the nightmares she had back then and that nowadays are with her daughter Irina, who lives in Lützerath.
Eckhardt – the last farmerin Lützerath who has not sold to RWE – reported of his lawsuit against the forced dispossesion by RWE he faces by the end of the year. He said, that RWE repeatedly builds up pressure, that it would mellow people, “just like a bucket-wheel excavator that always continues to turn around.”
“It is a crime to build in filters that make everything even worse.”
, said pediatrist Christian Döring. He reffered to the filter units used in RWE power plants that will – using ammoniac – reduce the ammount of bigger particulate matter, but increases the amount of nanoparticles. The nanoparticles are produced while burning coal, take on pollutants (PAC). They are even more harmful than larger particles, that can not cross through the alveoli. When contaminated particles are inhaled, it leads to inflamation in the lung, a hardening of vessels and results in in an increased risk of heart tattacks.
In pregnant people being exposed to PAC, leads an absorption of them into the babies DNA, that changes in response. Studies with children showed, that this exposure lead to a decreased ability for coordination as well as decreased intellignce. The effects are passed on from generation to generation. Their right on physical integrity was injured even before birth, said Döring “Children cannot stand in for their rights. We have to do that.”
Another contribution regarding health was made by Jörg Obergefäll who listed the pollutants (mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead, zinc, sulfurdioxide, nitric oxide and potentially radioactive elements that are not tested in environmental safety tests) that are produced in the power plants and showed how they related to the increased rates of caancer in mining regions. Furthermore he stressed that by breaking open historically grown dividing layers water gets mixed and so pollutants get into the drinking water. He finally mentioned – just like Döring – the increased number of deaths by burning coal.
„Do you know what pain is? What coal is? These are synonyms for me.“
Anke and Tjan of the „Gesellschaft für bedrohte Völker“ (Society for threatened peoples) participated in the RWE-tribunal and shared the story of Yana Tannagasheva. She is a member of the Shors in Kuzbass, but had to flee with her family from RUssia in 2018 due to her protest against black coal mining. Tjan spoke of the five families that refused to sell their homes to the coal companies, whose house burned down shortly afterwards.
The “mining” in Kuzbass takes place through explosions, the air contains large amounts of unfiltered coal dust, that settles on the ground. The rivers in the region are poisoned, fish cannot live in them which make the tradional lifestyle of the Shors impossible. Natural protection is not taken into account. Protected tree species are labelled non-existant by coal companies but are found – cut down – next to the mining areas.
RWE gets 40% of its supply of black coal from Russia, including companies that commit the destruction in Kuzbass, that hurt the rights of indigenous groups. This is not acceptable!
“The time to act is now!”
All this shows clearly, that RWE puts profits ahead of the comon good. This text probably not even covers the tip of the iceberg: Just a few excerpts of the tribunal were mentiond, federal subventions and human rights violations in Colombia didn’t occur, the climate crisis was just mentioned off-handedly.
What is clear though, is: An international, large-scale company, that forcefully disposses people (quite ironically in the name of the “common good”) for evergrowing profits, that does not use the best filters (thereby accepting the premature death of pople) and that by coperating with companies that disregard human rights, accepts the displacement and threats of people, cannot just continue as it does!