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Aachen hosts 'Fridays for Future' strike

June 21, 2019

Thousands of students have protested in the German city to urge immediate action on climate change. Police have vowed to prevent other activists from blocking access to one of Germany's largest open coal mines nearby.

Fridays for Future protest in Aachen
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/M. Kusch

Around 40,000 protesters from 15 countries rallied in the western German city of Aachen on Friday as part of a student movement demanding bold action to combat climate change, organizers said.

Many of the "Fridays for Future,"demonstrators carried signs and banners with slogans like "your greed costs us our future," ''climate justice: that's what we want," and "If Earth was a bank, you would have rescued it long ago."

Luisa Neubauer, an environmental activist, said the students were "not giving up, we stand for cross-border climate protection."

One of the most high-profile attendees was YouTuber, Rezo. The Aachener native has used his channel to criticize the government's climate policies.

Strong police presence

A large police deployment was noticeable in the city, although officials said that no incidents had been reported so far.

Aachen Fridays for Future
The Fridays for Future rally took place in Aachen, a city close to Germany's border with Belgium and the NetherlandsImage: Reuters/T. Schmuelgen

For the past year, students in Europe and across the globe have joined in weekly strike protests to try to pressure governments into taking major steps to curb CO2 emissions and halt climate change.

Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish activist, triggered the movement by protesting outside Sweden's parliament to demand immediate action.

Read more: Germany's youth wake up to their political power

Combat climate change

The protest is close to one of Germany's largest lignite mines. Thousands of climate activists are preparing to block access to the vast open coal mine over the weekend.

The site has witnessed large-scale protests in recent years after owner RWE planned to destroy the nearby Hambach Forest in order to expand the mine.

Local media reported that thousands of people were preparing to block access to the mine over the weekend.

Aachen Fridays for Future
A day before the protest, European Union leaders failed to agree to make the bloc's economy carbon neutral by 2050Image: Reuters/T. Schmuelgen

Activists accuse Germany of not doing enough to battle climate change, demanding that Berlin start winding down coal consumption and implementing progressive policies to become CO2 neutral in the near future.

Although Europe's most populous country has long promoted the use of clean renewables, it will likely miss its climate goals because of a reliance on cheap coal from mines near Hambach.

Read more: Climate action: Can we change the climate from the grassroots up? 

mm,ls /rt (dpa, AFP, AP)

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