The activists refer to this place as Mordor – the mine – and, to be honest, I can totally see why. Jesus… So we’re here at Hambach Forest, which has become this huge flashpoint in Germany and this battleground between activists and the police and this energy company, RWE. The reason why this place is so important is that it’s literally been decimated by this company. It used to be 5000 hectares and now it’s 500 hectares. So basically it’s just, like, the last piece of this forest and we’ve just come in and I can already see these structures that they’ve built. There’s apparently 150 activists here and they don’t want to move. We have this dirty secret of coal mining still happening here in the 21st century, so climate activists are saying: okay, so let’s stop them from cutting the forest, then they will stop the coal mining. Okay… Makes sense… It’s the idea of direct action and of putting yourself in the way of the destruction in a symbolic way but also in a very real way. They’d like to hear our opinion about what’s happening here. Six years ago this forest was occupied for the first time and for some of the locals it was like, people would give them back the forest. Because it was also a point of fear and a point of huge sadness, so they started to avoid the forest – not even go here – because it hurt them so much to see that it got cut every year. Around 150 activists are living in treehouses, occupying the 12,000 year-old Hambach Forest. Their goal is to stop energy giant RWE from clearing the forest to get to the coal under it. The occupation started six years ago. But on September 14, police moved in to clear the forest, saying that it was for fire safety reasons. Since then, a 4000-person police operation has been ongoing to evict them. No and I mean, we’re still constructing. I mean yesterday when they were evicting Oak Town, over where I live we started to build a treehouse. One goes down and another one comes up. Hopefully, yeah! That will be the idea! Right now a lot of police people are provoking us a bit much, they make really absurd things that I wouldn’t have believed they would do. But they are driving around with the police cars and having a tape with the sound of chainsaws and playing it to shock us. What!? Yeah, completely crazy. And also they have been quite violent. Guten Tag… Guten Tag. Can you get out of here please. Get out of here? In this direction. Okay. It’s an open forest! They tell us it’s a police area here. The police operation has drawn attention to RWE’s plans to clear the forest, making it a national scandal. Over the weekend, thousands of demonstrators joined the Hambach activists in solidarity and the estimated cost of the police operation so far has already run into the tens of millions of Euros. So behind me is the forest. Police have basically sealed off this area but activists are kind of playing cat and mouse with them – kind of almost playfully, but the police are kind of reacting quite aggressively. Some people have got through, other people have been detained and arrested and they’re still there. Hambi, Hambi, Hambi! Stays, stays, stays! Hambi! Stays! Hambi! Stays! Hambi! Stays, stays, stays! What’s really striking about this entire situation is that it’s so militarised. There’s police, obviously, everywhere and there’s armoured vehicles all across the perimeter of the forest. The activists refer to this place as Mordor – the mine – and to be honest, I can totally see why. It’s called ‘terra nova’, which is Latin for ‘new earth’ and it feels really apocalyptic. Jesus… So you can see all the layers of mining that’s going on and there at the bottom you’ve got the lignite coal and behind you have the forest. And this is basically what it comes down to. It’s really bleak to be honest, and what’s kind of bleaker is that there’s, like a restaurant there… and… and a play park for children… it’s really weird… and like it’s a massive, massive shock to come here after being in that forest. It makes you think about what it is that we’re doing to our planet. It literally looks like a scar. The Hambach surface mine is the single biggest CO2 emitter in all of Europe and the number of coal plants in Germany has more than doubled in the past three decades. This country is actually, one of the biggest power polluters in the EU. I think this image that Germany has, like, being progressive, in terms of protecting climate, is just a fake image that they’re using because what they actually did against climate change is very little. I think 40 percent of our energy comes from coal and half of it from lignite coal mining, which is the dirtiest of all fossil fuel energies. What is it that makes Germany able to extract coal, be such a big polluter, and yet have this image? Good PR, I guess? And we’re here to do the counter PR also. What I think this forest really can do is to send out a sign and to motivate other people and to give hope and I really think this is kind of a crystallisation point for the climate movement and, let’s say, the climate justice movement, people who want to also abolish capitalism. The sign that was sent out and all the media attention, this is a huge victory for the movement and it tells me ‘yes, it makes sense to do things like this, even me as a small person with some friends can actually make a change’. Like for me, it’s important to not just think that RWE is a really bad company and maybe the people in the government right now are the wrong people and we have to change them, but to look to the root of this problem. And for me that’s a capitalist economic system that is based on the exploitation of people and of nature and we have to build up another system to live in if we want to continue living on this earth.