Europe is preparing for the commencement of the COP26 international summit in Glasgow on October 31. The 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference event is expected to see greater ambition on the part of UN member nations.
This event marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Paris Agreement, a landmark international treaty that binds signatories to the “ratchet plan.” Under this plan, member nations are compelled to “ratchet” their climate efforts up significantly every five years.
Ahead of COP26, environmental activists in Germany are already pressuring Berlin to drop coal ahead of schedule.
German Prime Minister Angela Merkel previously committed the country to phase out coal by 2038. That’s too slow for some activists, however. On Friday, climate protestors took matters into their own hands by blocking excavators at the Garzweiler opencast lignite pit.
The protestors have adopted a strategy of stubborn opposition to ongoing coal-mining activities in Germany. For instance, many activists have erected treehouses in the woods that surround the Garzweiler pit. This makes the process of cutting down surrounding trees much more complicated for the mining company.
One protestor spoke with reporters on the matter Friday. “It’s easy for them to cut the trees and start digging. But it’s less easy if there is a tree with a tree-top house and a human being inside,” the woman, who only identified herself as Lotte, told Euronews.
Environmental advocates in Germany are pushing for the country’s government to move the phase-out date to 2030, eight years ahead of schedule. Germany’s Green Party, Liberal Party, and Social Democrats have suggested 2030 as the target date in their recent coalition negotiations. This coalition will be taking power in Germany soon, replacing the outgoing Merkel government.
Activists have pointed to direct pressure from protestors as a driving force behind these discussions. Some of the EU’s biggest coal producers, like Poland and Romania, have singled out Germany’s 2038 date as a defense of their own sluggish climate plans.
German climate advocates want to set an example for other EU nations. They argue that another major European economy leaving coal power behind will drive other coal-producing nations to do the same. Since Germany is a member of the Paris Agreement, the country will need to show a heightened commitment to climate change policy during COP26. Activists now hope that leaving the greenhouse gas-emitting coal behind is part of that plan.