Coal is dirty and dislocates people. In the state of Brandenburg, in east Germany, more than 1000 people will be thrown out of their houses and villages within the next 10-15 year. The reason: they live on brown coal.
Next to houses and cultural heritage, nature and animal habitat gets lost to the excavating machines who feed the coal into the nearby power plants. One of those is considered to be the dirtiest in all Europe and the whole coal burning in Brandenburg results in a higher per-person CO2 output in the state than people in the US on average have.
Brandenburg has a long tradition of surface mining. In the German Democratic republic the state run coal company was allowed to mine without many concessions to the people who were taken off their land, not to speak of the nature. In 1993, the villagers of Hornow, a village that has now disappeared, were promised to be the last ones that have to suffer because of the coal. Some 15 years later, the inhabitants of Atterwasch, Kerkwitz and Grabkow, 3 villages in the south-east of Brandenburg have been told that they will have to move within 10-15 years. Not far away, a formerly protected lake landscape is disappearing for the sake of mining.
In the meantime, the mining is done by a Swedish company which in other parts of Europe is known for a more environmental-friendly behaviour. Not so in Brandenburg, where the coal mining seems to be the political wish of a grand coalition government, although Brandenburg doesn’t actually depend on the coal. Already today, all private households could be fully provided for with alternative energy. And it’s not like the coal makes energy any cheaper – in the poor state of Brandenburg, energy use costs more than in Munich. The Greens, together with environmental organisations and the Left Party, have initiated a campaign to stop the surface mining and are collecting signatures for a referendum.
We hope that we can stop the devastating of a huge areas and the continuous use of CO2-intensive coal usage. If you want to have a look at the moon-like landscape that coal mining leaves behind, at the large scales of nature being destroyed and what it is like to live encircled by mines, you are welcome to join the Green Summer Academy this summer (see last page), which offers you a chance to visit the strip mines.