Thunberg joins march on German village in protest against coal mine expansion

Thunberg joins march on German village in protest against coal mine expansion

LUTZERATH, Jan 14 (Reuters) – About 6,000 protesters – including climate activist Greta Thunberg – marched through mud and rain in the German village of Luetzerath on Saturday, according to a police estimate, demonstrating against the expansion of an open pit lignite mine.

The clean-up of the village in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia was agreed between RWE ( RWEG.DE ) and the government in a deal that allowed the energy giant to tear down Lutzerath in exchange for its faster exit from coal and saving five villages initially. scheduled for destruction.

“This is a betrayal of present and future generations… Germany is one of the biggest polluters in the world and must be held responsible,” Thunberg said at a podium, as she marched with a cardboard sign saying in German ” Luetzi stands “, using an abbreviated name of the village.

As the protesters approached the village, they confronted police in riot gear and some used batons to push the protesters back.

Regional police said on Twitter that they had used force to stop people from breaking barriers and approaching the danger zone at the edge of the excavation area.

[1/12] Police officers spray activists during a protest against the expansion of German utility RWE’s Garzweiler open pit lignite mine in Luetzerath, Germany January 14, 2023. REUTERS/Christian Mang

Earlier this week, police removed protesters from the buildings they have occupied for nearly two years in an effort to stop the expansion of the nearby mine.

On Saturday, only a few remained camping in tree houses and an underground tunnel, but thousands turned out to protest the mine, which activists say symbolizes Berlin’s failed climate policy.

The president of North Rhine-Westphalia told Germany’s Deutschlandfunk radio on Saturday that energy policy “wasn’t always pretty” but that coal was needed more than ever in light of the energy crisis facing Europe’s biggest economy.

Earlier, Economy Minister Robert Habeck told Spiegel on Friday that Lutzerath was the “wrong symbol” to protest.

“It’s the last place where brown coal will be mined – not a symbol of more of the same, but of the final frontier.”

But activists have said Germany should stop extracting lignite and focus on expanding renewable energy.

Reporting by Petra Wischgoll, Andreas Kranz, Andreas Buerger and Max Schwarz; additional reporting by Anneli Palmen and Victoria Waldersee Editing by Tomasz Janowski

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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