To Protest Offshore Drilling, German Activists Turn Off Five Pipelines

last generation
Activists with Last Generation activate a pipeline shutdown valve (Last Generation)

Published Apr 28, 2022 11:48 AM by The Maritime Executive

On Wednesday, climate activists with the group "Last Generation" activated emergency shutdown valves at five oil pipeline stations in Germany. The objective, according to the activists, was to pressure the German government not to reopen its waters for drilling in its sector of the North Sea. 

At about 1000 hours, the activists accessed oil pipeline valve stations at locations near Berlin, Munich, Leipzig, Greifswald and Koblenz. They activated shutdown valves that "safely" closed off the flow, then took additional direct-action measures, like chaining themselves to equipment. Photos suggest that the sites were lightly secured, and the group only needed two people at each location to gain entry and turn off the flow. 

Their request was a call for German economy and climate minister Robert Habeck to declare that Germany would build "no more fossil infrastructure, especially no new oil drilling in the North Sea." In light of recent developments, the call may not be heeded: Germany is currently looking in all corners for alternatives to Russian oil and gas, including new offshore drilling in its own waters. Last week, officials in the German state of Lower Saxony gave the go-ahead for gas drilling off the Wadden Islands, a rare concession for fossil-fuel development in a time of geopolitical strain. 

Habeck, though a member of the Green Party, has been leading the charge to find new sources of oil and gas to power the German economy. His diplomatic trips and negotiations have paid off: this week, he announced that Germany has sourced enough long-term supplies of foreign oil to end its imports of Russian crude (if not Russian gas). 

The Last Generation (Letzte Generation) is a small, climate-focused advocacy group, and it undertakes direct action protests that few other environmental groups would be willing to pursue. Last August and September, five members of the group went on an 18-day hunger strike outside of the Reichstag, demanding a "citizens' climate assembly" to come up with plans for achieving Paris Agreement goals. One member of the protest had to be hospitalized. In February, groups of Last Generation activists glued their hands onto roadways in Munich and Berlin in order to protest food waste, which is responsible for about eight percent of GHG emissions.