News about melting glaciers, forest fires or people who leave their home countries because their life bases are destroyed – all this gives Dorothee Häußermann no peace. For years she had been reading about impacts of climate change in newspapers or books and was frustrated that there were no signs that the root causes for the problems were tackled. Up to the point when she decided to take the problem into her own hands.... so hard to grasp it may seem.
Since 2009, Dorothee is involved in groups that stand up for climate justice and an immediate coal-phase out, mainly within ausgeco2hlt or the Attac working group for energy, climate, environment. Focal point and leverage is the Rhineland Coalfield near Cologne – here, three open-cast lignite mines and four coal-fired power plants are the biggest single source of CO2 in Europe
With her groups she organizes climate camps, actions of civil disobedience around the mining infrastructure, but also network meetings for movement building as well as media work or lecture tours about alternative economic models, addressing the problems of economic growth. The aim is to build up a movement that takes the issue climate change to the streets, and that grows to be so strong as the anti-nuclear movement that was supported by many layers of society.
The idea is that people empower themselves to take responsibility for social change instead of giving up in despair in the face of UN-negotiations or impossible decisions between lesser evils in the supermarkt. Climate camps have been proved essential for building up a movement, and as places where people are politicized and inspired. At camps, people hold critical workshops, build wind mills, plan actions and live the society they envision on a small-scale.
For Dorothee herself the climate camp in London in 2009 was a key experience. Here she experienced how people overcome their isolation and apathy and get together: to offer resistance and to build up alternatives. In this year Dorothee had taken a year-off from her work as a teacher.
So when she returned from London, she had time to look for political groups that she wanted to join. When she started working at school again in 2010, she realized that she actually had no time for teaching. Writing articles, press releases or newsletter texts, organize meetings and much communication within the planning teams: all this takes a lot of time and it's hardly possible to do it on an occasional free evening. That's why in 2011, Dorothee quit school altogether. „English novels and correct spelling is still important to me. But fighting climate change seems more urgent to me right now. And I think I am less replaceable in the movement than at school.“ Since then Dorothee works free-lance in environmental education. Most of her energy, however, she puts into unpaid work.
AusgeCO2hlt does not want to become an organization in order to create paid jobs. This way the groups remains independent, they decide their agenda without the pressure of what sounds good in a funding proposal, and they can, for instance, send out calls to block coal excavators. Which happened again in August 2015 within the campaign „Ende Gelände“ („here and no further“), in which a big coalition organized a mass action of civil disobedience in a lignite mine
Dorothee is glad that „Ende Gelände“ resonates so widely, even on an international level. After five, sometimes slow years of building up a resistance movement in the area, coal has now become an issue of interest for the public. Several different groups have begun to support the struggle in the Rhineland Coalfield – among others the Degrowth network. In 2015, Dorothee was part of the team that organized a joined project: the summerschool „Degrowth in action: climate justice“ on the climate camp near the lignite mine Garzweiler. Dorothee works towards connecting climate justice and degrowth movement. „We will only be able to tackle climate change if we question the root causes of our excessive resource consumption and create a new basis of how we want to live and work together.“
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