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Germany: Activists make plans to save village from miners

January 8, 2023

Hundreds of activists have gathered in the village of Lützerath plan to delay its demolition for a coal mine for weeks. They say mining the fossil fuel is a betrayal of the Paris Agreement.

Activists standing in front of a banner reading '1.5° C means: Lützerath stays'
'1.5° C means: Lützerath stays': Activists say mining coal here will go against the Paris AgreementImage: Henning Kaiser/dpa/picture alliance

Activists seeking to stop the expansion of a coal mine in west Germany were making plans on Sunday on how best to save the village of Lützerath. The village is scheduled for demolition to allow lignite to be extracted from beneath it.  

The village, 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Cologne, has become a center for climate protest in Germany, with activists saying the planned clearance of the village for mining goes against the country's pledges under the Paris Agreement.

Police from the western city of Aachen estimated that up to 1,500 activists are currently in the village.

What is happening in Lützerath?

A spokeswoman for the Initiative Lützerath, Dina Hamid, said on Sunday that protesters wanted to protect the village for six weeks.

She said that sit-ins and the occupation of tree houses and huts were planned.

A planned concert by the band AnnenMayKantereit that was to take place near the edge of the mine was shifted to another venue after police determined that the original location was no longer safe due to a water leak that had destabilized the ground.

A digger pulling down a wooden barricade, with police looking on.
Police have had protest barricades around the village torn downImage: Henning Kaiser/dpa/picture alliance

'End of the road'

Prominent climate activist Luisa Neubauer is expected to attend an afternoon protest stroll through the village, which consists of only a few houses.

Neubauer told the German news agency dpa that Lützerath represented the end of the road for "business as usual."

"Politicians don't yet dare to admit that, but civil society does," she said.

"For years we have been experiencing the climate consequences. In the summer of 2022, there were extremely serious forest fires. The destruction that has been driven up to now by German politics and the German economy must stop," she added.

On Sunday, she tweeted that a bus carrying activists to the village had been held up and searched by police for three hours in what she called the "criminalization of a climate-engaged society."

Empty village

There are no permanent residents currently living in the village, which is now within an exclusion zone after local authorities gave permission for the clearance to go ahead.

The permission also allows police to take measures to clear protesters from the area from January 10 onward.

Five nearby villages that were previously threatened with demolition are now to remain. Lützerath, which now belongs to the operator of the Garzweiler mine, RWE, is the only one that is to be removed.

RWE says its demolition and the extension of the coal mine are necessary to ensure Germany's energy security.

tj/aw (dpa, epd, AFP)

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