Thoughts on the Ongoing Struggles at Hambacher Forst

The Battle between David and Goliath Continues…

After I returned from Hambacher Forst last Sunday, I initially planned to write a full article about it. As I started to type, it gradually became clear that I was currently not in the right mental situation to recall and reorganize what happened on that day (same situation when I came back from other protests in the past).

So instead, I will just (lazily) collect all the threads and materials I have uploaded onto the internet so far regarding this issue below, just for future reference.

Halt’ Stand, Hambacher Forst!

“Halt’ Stand, Rotes Madrid!” was a famous anti-fascism song during the Spanish civil war.

Upon returning from the site, I kept thinking of how suitable the lyrics are in comparison with the occupation of the forest and struggle against NRWE.

Just came back from #HambacherForst. Will share further films, photo, and more later. For now I will just state a few initial thoughts on this ongoing movement in German

During the spring uprising of 2014 in Taiwan, I was surprised by people, formerly motivated or not, who joined the movement and started a new wave of civil society. Particularly was I touched by those who I knew long and would have never participated in such an event before.

In the last 24 hours, I have experienced much similar sentiments.

This is no longer a movement within the climate activist circle; people I have never imagined of are now discussing the issue and even participating events nationwide.

I thank the forest dwellers, the 10,000 participants today on site, the (perhaps) 100,000 more around Germany, and those particular individuals who surprised me during the undertake. The mere fact of your existence defy the myths about coal, baseload, and energy politics in Germany.

Hambacher Forst is genuinely “system relevant”, in the sense that its survival will become the essential building block for energy transition in Germany and worldwide.

“Skeptics and naysayers, mark my words clearly: coal phase out of Germany begins in 2018, at Hambacher Forst.”

On the Connection of Hambacher Forst and Taiwan

Some friends in Taiwan are also holding an event to introduce the event right now.

One asked me how we can connect grassroots movements in Germany with Taiwan. My reply:

I think that like Shenao, Hambacher Forst is the underpinning event of current energy policy in Germany.

“If these projects continue to develop, how can the public believe the commitment of gradual coal phase out of both governments? “

However, I do see something in the protests of Hambacher that is lacking in the context of Taiwan’s current discussion. It is about solidarity.

Sure, the forest itself has many ecological values, and the air pollution from coal mining and coal power plants is also relevant.

But the struggle in Hambacher Forst is not just that. It has more significant meanings, even in a global scale.

During the Hambacher Forst occupation, protesters also held up Spanish banner: “No al Carbon” (“No to carbon”). Germany may have stopped hard coal mining, but it still imports hard coal from abroad, mostly in Colombia. This is why activists calls for a complete coal phase out as soon as possible, and not just this particular mine.

Interesting enough, the Colombians also showed solidarity towards their German comrades; so did many people in other places around the world.

“In contrast, discussion of energy transition in Taiwan always lacks the connections with Australia or Indonesia, where we get our coal and uranium the most.”

Another thing to note is that the event is now growing into the scale of anti-nuclear protests during 1970s and 1980s, which is also something interesting and much relevant to Taiwanese people.

For years, in order for RWE and other electricity giants to gain more profits, the German government has been sending the wrong message to the world: renewables need coal (or any other kind of baseload) as a complementary partner.

This is totally false, and even toxic for energy transition. This is what the Taiwanese people should really learn from when viewing this protest.

We also discussed how the events in Hambach Forst and other supporting events have inspired many others during these days. People are discussing how to boycott Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Bahn now, after finding out their ties with RWE and after activist groups in Berlin took the first shot. Divestment discussions also occur. If there has ever been the best time to talk about fossil fuel divestment, now is that time.

Against Trolls on the Net

Since Taiwanese Naysayers usually don’t bother to troll in English, I had the luxury of facing only one troll so far on the issue of Hambacher Forst. But TEIA is about to post an article introducing the event with my film, so…

Dear Mr. troll, it is strange that you seem to not care about this very forest but also blame activists for the destruction of it. While activists are risking their lives preventing the totally unnecessary coal mining expansion, you nuclear advocates just do nothing and sneer behind screens. That’s how much you “eco-modernists” really care about the environment.

Let me tell you what I think about your two ridiculous claims:
1. For that “Hambacher Forst not so special” bullshit: As long as ecologists and the general public in Germany think otherwise, I don’t care what your opinion about the forest is. In fact, I would really wish you were the PR manager of RWE. Your words would only anger the public more.

2. For that “RWE did this because of nuke phase out” bullshit: Germany simply has too much inflexible “baseload” currently. So much so, the 13% lignite mothballed under strategic reserve earlier this year never had a chance to be deployed, even in August when all nuclear across Europe reduce power or shut down due to heat stress of cooling water.

So stop spreading fake news of Germany increasing coal consumption due to nuke phase out; ever since 2000, the use of coal has and will continue to drop in Germany. Destroying Hambacher Forst for another 40 years of coal mining is thus totally unnecessary. The only reason RWE wants to destroy it is because it can make profit out of it for still some time.

Do you naively think keeping nukes on line will really stop RWE’s attempt to make more profit?

Had Germany not decided to phase out nuke, these giant utilities would still manage to burn coal by exporting more electricity to neighboring nations (that is already how these inflexible plants manage to survive currently). On the other hand, with more inflexible baseload on line, it would be much more difficult to integrate the variable renewables onto the grid. This would inhibit the growth of renewables, and due to that, in some scenarios (like the ones nuke advocates are selling to us in Taiwan) it might unfortunately cause more coal consumption in the end.

“Energy transition means a phase out of baseload. Germany did the right thing to phase out nuke, now climate activists there will push for the second right decision to phase out coal also. “

On the Tragic Death of the Journalist in the Forest

To Not Get too Sad… Let’s Look at Some of My Favorite Stickers about Hambacher Forst

The Struggle in Hambacher Forst Continues… #HambiBleibt

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Tony Yen

Tony Yen

A Taiwanese student who studied Renewable Energy in Freiburg. Now studying smart distribution grids / energy systems in Trondheim.