Green Minister Neubaur gives hope for Lützerath

Düsseldorf (dpa/lnw) – With a vigil and a symbolic sit-in in front of the green-led North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, environmental activists demonstrated for the preservation of the village of Lützerath in the lignite mining area. The alliance of environmental and climate protection associations announced on Friday that it would defend the site threatened by opencast mining. “We’re doing everything we can to defend Lützerath,” said Dina Hamid from the “Lützerath is alive” initiative. “And we are many.”

Economics and climate protection minister Mona Neubaur (Greens) came to the around 60 demonstrators and gave them some hope: “There is an agreement that says that the federal government, the state and the mining company will not create any facts until an agreement is reached .” At the same time, Neubaur also made it clear: “The legal situation with regard to the Lützerath settlement has been clearly decided: it is RWE property. Period.” The CDU and the Greens in NRW would negotiate with the federal government and RWE in the autumn.

But you understand people’s impatience. “Maybe I’ll even share it,” said the deputy prime minister. She argues for making the political declaration of intent to phase out coal prematurely by 2030 into law. But peace in the lignite region will last “a long, long, long time,” said Neubaur. Because it’s not just about phasing out coal by 2030, but also about recultivating the huge opencast mines.

Dirk Jansen, Managing Director of the Bund for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (BUND NRW) said that Lützerath would be the acid test for the black-green NRW coalition. There is no energy-related necessity to evacuate Lützerath. An agreement must be reached with RWE that the village will not be cleared until further notice and that not a single tree will be cleared from October 1st, said Jansen. Neubaur had to reject the present RWE application.

Opponents of mining live in tents, caravans, tree houses and huts in the deserted lignite town of Lützerath. The last original resident had sold to RWE in the spring. Protests have been going on for weeks. Like the Hambach Forest, Lützerath has become a symbol. The Fridays for Future activist Greta Thunberg also visited the village a year ago.

In their coalition agreement, the CDU and the Greens are sticking to an early phase-out of coal by 2030 and announcing a new key decision on the progress of lignite mining in the near future. According to plans by the NRW state government, all five villages of the third resettlement section at the Garzweiler opencast mine are to be preserved. However, Lützerath is not one of them and is not explicitly mentioned.

The Bundestag had given backing for the preservation of Lützerath in the summer. In a recommended resolution on the draft law by the SPD, Greens and FDP on the availability of replacement power plants in the event of a gas crisis, it said: “The German Bundestag also supports the preservation of the village of Lützerath at the Garzweiler opencast mine and the waiver of the use of the lignite under the village.”

A study by the “Coal Exit Research Group” also came to the conclusion that there was no energy-related need to use other villages and farms at the Garzweiler opencast mine. The group includes experts from the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) and universities.

Last week, climate activists asked the Greens offices in North Rhine-Westphalia and the eco-party to do more to preserve Lützerath. The protest action on Friday was part of the Germany-wide climate strike by Fridays for Future on Friday.

© dpa-infocom, dpa:220923-99-874122/4

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