The documentary Trees of Protest accompanies the climate movement in the German lignite area Hambach for more than two years. It tells the story of the bitter struggle of environmental activists for climate justice and against the mining of lignite by the energy company RWE.
Filmmaker Nick Schader documents how the initially regional resistance and climate movement across German borders grew and gained international attention. The focus of the film are environmental activists who live in dizzying heights in Hambach Forest in tree houses, so as to preserve the 12,000-year-old forest from the planned deforestation. Because RWE also wants to clear the remaining remnants of what used to be the largest forest in North Rhine-Westphalia for lignite.
Trees of Protest provides insights into the lives of the tree house inhabitants, who end up putting their bodies in the way of the grubbing machines. The clearance of the tree houses in autumn 2018 led to one of the largest police operations in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany.
The story of the climate struggle is also told on the basis of social media, which with the hashtag #HambiBleibt represent a central communication channel for the entire resistance. The film also lets internationally renowned climate experts have their say and explains why Germany clearly misses its own climate protection goals.
It is the largest hole in Europe, the Hambach opencast mine, located in the Rhenish lignite mining district between Cologne and Aachen (Germany). Where brown coal is now being mined, the 12,000 year old Bürgewald used to grow - today known as Hambach Forest. It was once one of the largest forests in North Rhine-Westphalia, and in its composition it is the last of its kind in Central Europe. But of formerly 5000 hectares of forest, the energy company RWE has already cleared and dredged about 4500 hectares. The open pit Hambach already swallowed four villages. Thousands of residents have already been relocated - ghost villages are emerging. At the same time, scientists around the world are calling for drastic measures to reduce CO2 emissions in order to stop man-made climate change.
The resistance in the Hambach Forest is a fight against lignite and the energy giant RWE. Because the coal from the Hambach opencast mine is burned in the power plants Niederaussem and Neurath - two of the dirtiest power plants in the world.