Towards the Emergence of a European Civil Disobedience Movement for Climate Justice? the Case of Ende Gelände

Friday, 20 July 2018: 10:55
Oral Presentation
Fanny LAJARTHE, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Edwin ZACCAI, Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium
Even though the concept of climate justice was coined at the end of the 1990s, it is not until the perceived failure of COP15 that it became central in the global climate movement. In Europe, the climate justice current emerged from a merger between the global justice and anticapitalist movements and the “radical” stream of the climate movement. Although the burning of fossil fuels have always been a key issue, it became highlighted with the rise of the “keep it in the ground” initiatives, incarnated in complementary forms of resistance, including divestment campaigns, protests or fossil fuel infrastructure blockades (e.g. mining facilities, train tracks or port terminals, gas pipelines etc.).

These infrastructure blockades have multiplied, reflecting a progressive climate disobedience escalation in various European countries, including the UK, the Czech Republic or Germany. However, these blockades often happen within national lines, echoing difficulties to construct narratives and networks that would span borders. The recent success of Ende Gelände (“here and no further”), a cross-border massive civil disobedience action against coal mining in Germany, raises questions on the ways activists can achieve transnational civil disobedient mobilizations. In other words, how did Ende Gelände manage to attract activists from all over Europe and what can we learn from it?

Drawing on literature review, interviews and participant observation, this presentation seeks to offer findings on the internal factors (e.g. organizational structure and mobilization networks, framing and values, action repertoires) potentially fostering transnational mobilization capacities. These capacities are essential in order to achieve greater visibility and legitimacy. In particular, we argue that the movement managed a successful framing of the issues at stake, relying on a systemic approach of climate struggles. We also acknowledge a certain “mass effect”, acting as a way to convince civil disobedience first-timers to increase their level of engagement.