Ende Gelände blockades 'fossil capitalism'

A thousand climate activists blocked several rail sections and access roads in the port of Hamburg, August 2022. 

Climate justice activists allege heightened levels of police brutality at latest Ende Gelände action in Hamburg, Germany.

Although I have experienced police brutality at many of the previous Ende Gelände actions, this year saw a significantly heightened degree of repression.

Climate justice activists allege there have been new levels of police brutality at the latest Ende Gelände action in Hamburg, Germany.

Activists targeted fossil gas infrastructure and the Yara chemical fertilizer plant in Brunsbüttel, Schleswig-Holstein to fight against climate injustice.

The Port of Hamburg was brought to a standstill on the 13 August 2022 and there was severe economic disruption for days between the 11 and 14 August.

Decommissioned

Activists occupied the construction site for the planned liquefied natural gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony. And blockaded the railway lines and bridges used to import and process fossil gas, oil and coal.

Since 2015, Ende Gelände has predominantly targeted brown coal in Germany which along with other groups like the Hambacher Forest occupation succeeded in pushing for a coal phase-out in Germany.

However, the new Social Democrat and Green Party coalition government have made clear that they intend to follow the British Government’s dash for gas.

The initiative led by the Green Party intends to build twelve liquefied natural gas terminals in the Hamburg area and have them operated by energy companies until 2043.

Similar to the UK the German government is using the war in Ukraine as a pretext to double down on fossil fuel consumption including ramping up fossil gas imports and potentially re-opening decommissioned coal power stations.

Justice

Ende Gelände drew attention to the lie that fossil gas is a ‘transition fuel’ or is ‘green’ in showing that gas is still a massive contributor to climate change in its release of methane, a gas that has a much larger effect on climate change than CO2.

Activists argued that energy security would be better found with domestic renewables and that the increase in domestic energy bills is a crisis of capitalist distribution. While the fossil fuel industry receives billions in subsidies millions of people will be plunged into fuel poverty this winter.

Ende Gelände also drew attention to the economic neo-colonial aspect of hugely increased gas imports. In increasing gas imports while also ceasing to rely on Russian gas, Germany will increasingly rely on fracked gas from North America and gas from Latin America and Africa at huge cost to the people affected by it.

Many ecological activists in the Global South fighting against extraction have been murdered and severely repressed in a colonial capitalist system that the German government is complicit in.

Ende Gelände worked closely with anti-colonial and racial justice groups to advocate for action against gas in solidarity with the global south.

Kettle

Around 3,000 people attended the camp - the first large scale Ende Gelände action camp since 2019. Although there have been two mobilisations since 2019, because of covid there was no mass camp till this year. The regional authorities made multiple attempts to ban the camp but they were overruled twice in court.

Although I have experienced police brutality at many of the previous Ende Gelände actions, this year saw a significantly heightened degree of repression.

Activists from all around Europe and the world attended including activists from the UK and the Global South. People were mobilised on an explicit anti-capitalist, anti-colonial and intersectional politics which was reflected by the multitude of workshops available at the camp.

Although I have experienced police brutality at many of the previous Ende Gelände actions, this year saw a significantly heightened degree of repression.

Police used excessive amounts of pepper spray on activists even after we were no longer able to move being caught in a police kettle.

Prisons

People were temporarily blinded and cried out in pain against this onslaught. Police also used water cannons on activists blockading a bridge used to transport fossil gas causing pain and bruising. They also were very liberal with baton beatings.

Police confiscated sun protection in the over 30˚ heat and refused activists water and access to medics. The police even claimed that pepper spray was only used after activists had used it first, a lie repeated later by the Daily Mail who showcased the German police’s brutality as an example for the British police to follow.

Despite causing severe economic disruption to the workings of fossil capitalist infrastructure there were very few arrests, and it is expected that there will continue to be no convictions as a result of this and all other previous Ende Gelände actions.

From the beginning Ende Gelände has sought to avoid legal repression and criminal convictions in their actions, understanding arrest may happen but it is not actively desired. We recognise that it is economic disruption that undermines the fossil capitalist system and not filling prisons with activists.

This Author 

Alice Swift has been a radical climate activist for 12 years. She helped to found Fossil Free UK and is studying a PhD on the European climate camp movement at Manchester University. Follow her on Twitter: @swiftnotswallow.

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