German police clash with climate protestors over mine construction News
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German police clash with climate protestors over mine construction

German police clashed with protestors Saturday as thousands rallied behind the protection of the German village of Lützerath, which is set to be destroyed to make way for a coal mine.

Earlier in the week, a German regional court upheld an earlier ruling to clear the village, which is in the brown-coal district of the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia. Utility company RWE says they reached a deal with the regional government last year that allows the village to be destroyed in return for ending coal use by 2030, rather than 2038:

The appropriation of the village is part of a comprehensive political agreement between the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Industry, Climate Action and Energy of The State of North Rhine-Westphalia, and RWE. The agreement was presented to the public in October 2022 and, among other things, is setting out to bring RWE’s exit from coal forward by eight years to 2030. This means that the previously planned operating time of the company’s coal-fired power plants has been halved.

The protest attracted high profile climate activists Greta Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer, who joined what organizers estimated as a 35,000 strong crowd, while German police say those in attendance reached more like 10,000.

“We are currently in Lützerath, a German village threatened to be demolished for an expansion of a coal mine. People have been resisting for years. Join us here at 12 or a local protest tomorrow to demand that #LützerathBleibt !#ClimateStrike,” Greta Thunberg tweeted with a picture of herself and other protestors holding signs against the planned mining expansion.

Lützerath is the last of 14 villages sacrificed for the Garzweiler mine, with thousands of residents settled, and churches and schools bulldozed to make way for Germany’s energy expansion plans. It comes after thousands of protestors were moved from empty buildings in the village earlier this week.

Climate action group is now trying to lobby Deutsche Bank, saying they are the main investors in the Garzweiler mine run by energy firm RWE.

“After nationwide solidarity actions in the course of the evacuation of Lützerath, the protests are now aimed directly at the financiers of RWE. Deutsche Bank is one of the main investors in the coal group, which is why the ‘Lützerath Bleibt’ alliance and activists from various climate groups are calling for actions in front of the bank buildings throughout Germany,” said in a statement.