Melting glaciers, burning forests, entire regions without drinking water - all this gives Dorothee Häußermann no peace. Every day the window of opportunity to prevent the worst effects of climate change shrinks. But the government is not taking any measures that would be commensurate with the threat - this is particularly evident in the dragging out of the coal phase-out. That is why Dorothee has decided to take the problem into her own hands.
Since 2009, Dorothee has been active in groups that campaign for climate justice and an immediate coal phase-out, e.g. in ausgeCO2hlt or in the Ende-Gelände alliance, which she helped to initiate. The starting point for the campaigns is the Rhenish lignite mining area near Cologne - with three open-cast mines and three large power plants one of the largest sources of CO2 in Europe. With her comrades-in-arms, Dorothee organises civil disobedience actions directly at the open-cast mine infrastructure, climate camps, but also education and public relations work on growth critique and climate justice (e.g. the first Degrowth Summer School or the People's Climate Summit parallel to the 24th UN Climate Summit in Bonn). The aim is to build a movement that takes the issue of climate change to the streets (on the rails, on the trees...) in order to put pressure on politicians.
After years of building up, the anti-coal movement has grown strongly. More than 6,000 people took part in the last end-of-site action in October 2018, bringing the demand for a coal phase-out forcefully into the national and international media. To prepare such spectacular mass actions, background work is needed throughout the year: Dorothee prepares planning meetings, writes press releases and newsletter texts or speaks about climate change at workshops to inspire people to go into the pit or onto the tracks with Ende Gelände. Last year, Dorothee stood trial for her participation in an Ende Gelände action. There, with the support of knowledgeable fellow campaigners, she defended herself - and could not be found guilty because of her good arguments. The case was dropped. Dorothee sees the conduct of the trial and the public relations work as part of the political struggle.
All this takes time and cannot be done on a free evening. In 2011, Dorothee quit her job as a German and English teacher altogether. "English novels and correct punctuation are still important to me. But the fight against climate change seems more urgent to me right now." Since then, she has been working freelance in environmental education. However, she spends most of her time on unpaid work.
Dorothee is convinced that civil disobedience in the face of the climate crisis is a legitimate means to express the urgency of the threat and to wake up the public. However, there is no money to be made from it. Ausgeco2hlt and Ende Gelände work without offices or paid positions. This means that the groups remain independent, are open to all people who want to participate and can plan courageous actions. At the same time, it is a great challenge to reconcile the time and energy-consuming commitment with securing a livelihood. Dorothee sees the support of her godparents as a way of mastering this balancing act and giving all her energy to movement work in the long term.
If you want to know more about Dorothee's idea of a collective energy transition, read her taz article or her column at klimareporter. Or simply get in touch with her directly, we will be happy to put you in touch.