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Action 2023: Leave the coal in the ground

Ramp up renewables rather than retaining fossil-fuelled climate killers

In January 2023, the Corporate Climate Action alliance met up again in Lützerath to demonstrate for an exit from lignite and a switch to sustainable industry. This alliance of entrepreneurs set up by Protect the Planet in 2021 shows that many companies are already making serious efforts to combat climate change and are even prepared to take to the streets. It is clear to them that our economy and ecology must go hand-in-hand and that good money can (and must!) be made in business without destroying the planet or endangering the climate.

As an alliance of sustainable businesses, we call on the German government to invest in a future-proof, climate-friendly and safe energy supply. We demand an immediate exit from lignite – including from Lützerath.. Otherwise the Paris Climate Agreement will be undermined and the climate crisis will be exacerbated. We demand much faster, less bureaucratic expansion of renewables in Germany. Sustainable economy now!

It has been clear for a long time that the coal underneath Lützerath must stay in the ground in order for Germany to meet its 1.5-degree target. Yet since January 2023 Lützerath has been completely levelled. The houses, treehouses and farm of the last farmer in Lützerath, Eckardt Heukamp, have been irrevocably destroyed. For almost three years, climate activists have been living in Lützerath experimenting with new forms of social living arrangements in tree houses and empty buildings and campaigning for climate justice. The “traffic-light” coalition government argued that the coal underneath Lützerath was required to meet the need for energy during the gas crisis caused by the Russian invasion of the Ukraine. Climate activists and scientists accuse the federal government of using misleading figures to back up their arguments. They point to studies that prove security of supply can be maintained without the coal below Lützerath. Up until the last miute, people of all different backgrounds campaigned to retain Lützerath. The village had long become a symbol of misguided climate policies. Over 35,000 people demonstrated in January 2023 in favour of retaining the village.

Corporate Climate Action was also there on the ground in Lützerath among the demonstrators. These exemplary companies demonstrated side by side with climate activists for future-proof climate policies. In doing so, Corporate Climate Action set an important precedent by showing climate activists also have the support of members of the business world. In the wake of this campaign, the national weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” printed a whole page of demands by Corporate Climate Action for climate protection, including: “Leave the coal in the ground! Ramp up renewables rather than retaining fossil-fuel climate killers”.

We started a petition with the same demand, calling on the federal government and the regional government of NRW to place a moratorium on Lützerath. Within 48 hours, over50,000 signatures were collected. A host of prominent individuals from all walks of life and social circles supported the moratorium as some of the first signatories to this petition.

The companies

It is high time for companies to commit to climate-change action – and take measures that are effectively communicated to the public. Under the hashtag #UnternehmenKlimaschutz (Corporate Climate Action) we are making it official. Climate protest is no private matter. Together with the many committed companies in the sustainability sector, the initiative demands adherence to the Paris Agreement, an immediate exit from lignite and much faster expansion of renewables. It also calls on other companies to join in and make their voices heard for climate protection. Get in touch, start effective PR measures and use the hashtag #UnternehmenKlimaschutz, so we can all make a clear, joint statement that even German industry demands action on climate change.


VAUDE offers functional and innovative products for mountaineers and cyclists. As a sustainable, innovative outdoor equipment provider, VAUDE is making a contribution to a liveable world so that the people of tomorrow can enjoy nature with a clear conscience. This family company is setting worldwide ecological and social standards in the process. VAUDE (pronounced [fau’de]) stands for environmentally-friendly products made under fair production conditions. This company based in the southern German town of Tettnang employs around 650 people.

Antje von Dewitz, CEO Vaude

“Our dependence on fossil-fuelled energy is feeding the climate crisis. The current energy shortage only serves to underline the high price we are paying for that dependence and just how far behind we are on the switch to renewables. Not only in government but in many companies, too little has been done in the past to protect the climate. The fact that long-agreed exit dates for nuclear and coal-fired power are being extended in panic mode is short-sighted thinking that could cost us dearly in the long term. In order to achieve the 1.5-degree target of the Paris Climate Agreement, we urgently need a concerted approach to implementing the transformation to renewables in Germany and around the globe. Combatting climate change must be our highest priority.”

WEtell GmbH

WEtell is the first truly sustainable and fair mobile phone provider in Germany. With our core values of climate protection, data protection, fairness and transparency we are setting new standards in the mobile phone sector. Our tariffs are certified climate-neutral and abled to be terminated on a monthly basis. We take a strong stand on data protection and with our person-to-person service we are always at your side. We campaign for a fair and sustainable business world. This is why WEtell was set up with fully accountable ownership and is part of the public-interest economy.

Alma Spribille, WEtell

“We think that companies have a social responsibility which extends beyond the purely commercial sphere. To us, this means acting in our everyday business dealings in a truly sustainable manner and taking an active part in climate protests.”

Protect the Planet gGmbH

The non-profit organisation Protect the Planet carries out climate-change projects and campaigns for 100 % climate-neutral lifestyle and business practices. Our declared goal is to stop the climate crisis and to keep the planet liveable for future generations. To achieve this goal, we network with NGOs, politicians, scientists, industry and civilian interest groups. Protect the Planet has been involved in several climate court cases and in 2021 supported the last inhabitants of Lützerath through its Corporate Climate Action project.
Dr. Martin Köppel, Geschäftsführer von Protect the Planet

The climate crisis is advancing at a rapid pace political decision-makers are doing too little to ensure we achieve the 1.5-degree target. We now urgently need bold, committed companies who are taking a lead and also helping to stop the climate crisis. We need companies who will stand in solidarity with the people of the environmental and climate movement and are also prepared to take to the streets to campaign for climate justice. This is why we support the Corporate Climate Action alliance as it also works as an environmental organisation.”

Prokon Regenerative Energien eG

Prokon Regenerative Energien eG with around 40,000 members, is the largest energy co-op in Germany, which makes it a successful example of people-powered energy transformation. Some of the core competencies of Prokon include the development, planning and realisation of onshore wind farms, large-scale solar farms and bio=methane plants as well as the associated technical and commercial operation of these plants and nationwide provision of private households with green power. Every year the cooperative produces more than 1.1 billion kWh of wind power in Germany. This is equivalent to the average consumption of almost 350,000 households and a CO2 saving of more than 733,700 tons.
Katharina Weinberg, Innovations- und Digitalexpertin, Prokon

“As a cooperative, Prokon stands for participation and cooperation as the driving forces of the energy transformation. Whether as an activist or operational practitioner, all play an important part in achieving Germany’s climate goals. We are convinced they can only be achieved if we act and work together.”


Ecosia is a public-good-based search machine that invests its entire profit into climate protection. At least 80 % of it goes into worldwide tree-planting projects. Already more than 165 million trees in 35 countries have been planted in this way. With its own solar panels, Ecosia additionally promotes renewable energy sources and is now producing more than double the amount of renewable electricity required to power the services of its search engine. In 2018 Ecosia’s founder and CEO Christian Kroll gifted his shares to the Purpose Foundation, to make an irredeemable and legally binding commitment to keeping the company a not-for- sale social enterprise, with any profits used solely for the public good.
Génica Schäfgen Deutschlandchefin, Ecosia

“We can feel how pressing the climate crisis is with every passing summer. Climate catastrophes like flooding and forest fires have long ceased to be some kind of distant dystopia. They are already a harsh reality here in Germany. We are running out of time, but despite the degree of urgency, it has been decided that lignite coal will still be mined in Lützerath. We demand consistency from government and industry in their decision-making. Climate goals must be upheld and responsible companies must put the good of society before their own profitability when circumstances demand it. After all, it is about safeguarding the future for all of us.”

GLS Crowd

Energy transformation, away from nuclear and coal and transformation to a sustainable way of doing business, is all part of the DNA of the GLS Bank. The crowd-investing platform, GLS Crowd initiated by the bank in 2017 facilitates investment in renewable energy sources and storage technologies, climate-friendly mobility and the green economy. Since its inception, 48 projects with a single volume of up to 4 million euros have been financed via the platform.
Discover the options for directly investing in sustainable

GLS Crowd Logo

“Let’s promote joint projects for a coal-free, future-proof energy supply!”

Bürgerwerke eG

More than 50,000 people and over 100 regional energy cooperatives from all over Germany joined forces to form this citizen’s utility company, in order to accelerate the transformation to clean energy. As an independent, green-power provider we supply people with power from solar, wind and green gas produced by ordinary people from plant-based waste.
Our goal is to put the supply of renewable, regional and self-determined energy into the hands of ordinary citizens so that as many people as possible can participate in the transition towards sustainable power.

Kai Hock, Vorstand, Bürgerwerke eG

“As a cooperative green-power provider we are convinced that if we all work together, we can find a way. This is something we have in common with the Corporate Climate Action alliance #UnternehmenKlimaschutz – we work collaboratively to ensure climate protection and a liveable future.”

PolaR BEAR Positive Relations GmbH

Purpose Coaching and Management Consulting for Positive Relations. PolaR BEAR Positive Relations deliver more than strategic communication with the target market. We make interactive, real and meaningful connections with our customers, employees, stakeholders and the public. PolaR BEAR advises, coaches and accompanies companies and organisations on their own unique journey towards corporate social responsibility (CSR), their sustainability strategy and their internal and external communications – with a pro-benefit effect. It is about working together to find or develop the appropriate sustainability and purpose identity, which is the essence of Positive Relations.

Claudia Gersdorf, Polarbear

“Our actions in all walks of life have direct consequences on all people everywhere. As part of our work for various human rights organisations like Oxfam, Doctors without Borders or Viva con Agua, I kept seeing with my own eyes the global consequences in countries like Ethiopia, Uganda or Haiti. We all know this and have known it for decades. The logic is intolerable. It is now time to adopt an immediate and consistent attitude of acting sustainably and holistically – for the good of all people.”

Forest Gum

Do good. Chew good! That is the motto of Forest Gum. We produce plastic-free chewing gum made out of natural and biodegradable ingredients. We use no artificial aromas, chemical additives or any form of plastic as the chewable base. That is what is used in conventional chewing gum, of which 580,000 tons are purchased every year – and spat out again. That is plastic we not only chew in our mouths but also spit out into the environment.
By chewing Forest Gum, you can also make an active contribution to forest protection. Through collaborating with local partner cooperatives and careful extraction of chicle as the natural chewable mass, we are helping to ensure the second-largest uninterrupted forest region in Central America remains intact for a long time to come.

ForestGum, Thomas Krämer

“We are convinced that we can only overcome the climate crisis by acting together. Everyone from private individuals to politicians and companies can and must contribute to the common good. It is not acceptable to put commercial interests ahead of global responsibility and implementation of the transformation to clean energy. Our top priorities must be adherence to the 1.5 target of the Paris Climate Agreement and expansion of renewables. Let us all work together to ensure a better, sustainable future!”

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