With so many lignite mines inaccessible and across flat landscapes, Dan thought it best to shoot part of the series on a drone. “It seemed logical… to capture the huge, inhuman scale of some of the lignite mines,” he explains. “It led to some pretty stressful moments, like launching the drone while hiding in the bushes from security or talking my way around to avoid being arrested by German police for flying over the Garzweiler mine during the protests. ‘Ende Galenda.’ The series covers nine countries in total, some partly driven by ClientEarth’s involvement in business. “I struck up a working friendship with artist Joanie Lemercier while filming around Hambach and Garzweiler,” adds Dan. “He was shooting a lot of drone motion pictures and large-scale video projections in the mine and against the desecrated church in the demolished village of Manheim to protest against RWE’s actions and to support Ende Gelände.”
Two particular images that particularly stand out are the captures of the Sines power plant and the protesters marching through the Garzweiler mine. Sines’ image sheds light on the current coal situation in Europe and explains how Portugal made the transition to a coal-free country. “At the time, Sines was one of the 30 most polluting factories in Europe, but while researching the project, I could see people lying on the beach next to it and swimming in the sea next to it. flows from factories, on satellite images,” Dan explains. “As soon as I saw this I knew I had to try to photograph it.” As for the Garzweiler protesters, “they played cat and mouse with German police and mine security as they tried to block mines and factories,” Dan recalls. “To see thousands of young people protesting, crossing police lines, storming the mine and blocking train lines to shut down factories and force mining to a halt, all in the face of a very brutal police response , was really moving.
But, Dan hopes this project will go beyond highlighting the past and present. He wants it to inspire a future. “I want this project to highlight the work that still needs to be done in Europe to go beyond coal and also to underline that this is not just a black and white problem,” says- he. “We can’t just shut down all the coal infrastructure and replace it with renewables in the same area to replace the jobs that will be lost all at once. It’s not that simple.” It’s what Dan describes as a “bittersweet” situation, since “so much has changed” since he shot it. finished, I had planned to shoot a lot more in Poland, especially around Belchatow but the pandemic put an end to those plans,” he explains. “I hope to continue working with ClientEarth, so maybe we’ll continue working on this project or tackle a different environmental issue.”