more protests against Musk’s ‘capitalist sham’ project

  • Post last modified:March 11, 2024
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Once again, environmental protesters in Germany have been taking on Elon Musk’s ecocidal electric car battery factory near Berlin. On Sunday 11 March, hundreds of people demonstrated against Tesla’s plans to expand the site.

Organisers said they were calling for “a secure water supply” and “real climate protection”. They estimated near to 1,000 people took part in the action.

Protesters fight Tesla expansion plans

The protest followed an act of sabotage by a separate group of environmental activists that forced the factory to halt production.

On Tuesday 5 March, Vulkan Group targeted a nearby electricity pylon which caused a power outage at the plant. Originally, Tesla estimated its losses from the closure could be in the hundreds of millions of US dollars. However, Fortune reported that figures could soar over a billion US dollars.

As a result, Musk reacted by branding the group as “eco-terrorists”. However, as the Canary’s Hannah Sharland argued:

the perpetrators of social and environmental violence against communities and nature are the true criminals – and Musk is no exception.

So with Tesla stock nose-diving, a coalition of environmental groups have again piled on the pressure. Groups including Extinction Rebellion, Nabu, and Robin Hood joined the protest to speak out about the climate and ecological impacts of Musks’ project.

Specifically, protesters oppose Musk’s plan to expand the Grunheide plant, south of Berlin, by 170 hectares (420 acres), from a current size of 300 hectares. The US company aims to double production to a million electric vehicles annually. Notably, the Grunheide site is Tesla’s only European factory.

However, environmentalists and residents have been resisting these plans. In particular, they have been fighting the deforestation required for the expansion, and raising the impact of the project on the local water supply. They have also highlighted the impacts of an increase in road traffic in the area.

The demonstration also came a week after BBC reported that activists from across the country had begun occupying the forest set to be demolished for the factory upgrade.


Meanwhile, supporters of the Tesla expansion held a smaller counter-protest, with participants citing economic benefits for the region. Regional news outlet RBB quoted police as saying some 200 people took part.

However, the majority of the nearby community oppose the project. A local referendum recently saw more than 60% of respondents vote against the proposed expansion. Over three-quarters of the local eligible voting population turned out for the vote. According to the Guardian, 3,499 people voted against the expansion, with 1,882 in favour. Despite this, the vote was not legally binding, so the local authorities could still yet approve the plans.

A member of the Robin Hood environmental group, Annika Fuchs, said she wanted local authorities to respect the vote outcome. She told AFP that:

It’s really important to us that we take the opinion of citizens here seriously

Protesting Musk’s “capitalist sham solutions”

Moreover, environmental groups were also there to challenge the international impacts of Tesla’s factory expansion. In particular, the company’s supply chains have caused harm to communities across the planet.

Critically, the coalition were protesting against Tesla owner Elon Musk’s “capitalist sham solutions”. As the Canary also detailed, the extractive mining, and manufacture of electric vehicles is a carbon-intensive and exploitative process:

There’s still the not so small matter that producing vehicles to replace the entire existing petroleum fleet will generate a lot of emissions. On top of this, you have the pollution and ecological destruction of extracting the multitude of critical minerals required for their manufacture. Not to mention the labour violations, rights abuses, and land-grabbing linked to mining for these materials.

German climate and rainforest campaign group Rettet den Regenwald also participated in the demonstration. On its X account, it highlighted the impacts the expansion project could have on communities in the Global South. In German, the group said:

The destruction for nickel in #Indonesien is not an isolated case! The massive mining of metals for #EAutos also takes place for copper in Ecuador or for #Lithium in Chile. An attack on the commons of many peoples all over the world!

Evidently, the protesters in Germany held Musk’s expansion plans to the fire, for all the right reasons. They showed that billionaires are no friend to working class communities, or the environment, wherever they take their profiteering vanity projects – “green” or otherwise.

Feature image via FRANCE 24 English/Youtube screengrab.

Additional reporting via Agence France-Presse

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