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German police remove activists protesting coal mine expansion

German police remove activists protesting coal mine expansion

Climate activists accuse the Greens of using energy crisis to justify support for coal mining plan.
German police on Tuesday dismantled barricades and dragged away climate activists staging a protest against the expansion of a coal mine.

The abandoned village of Lützerath, in North Rhine-Westphalia, has been the center of protests against the Garzweiler mine, run by energy firm RWE (RWEG.DE), and the police are on Wednesday set to clear the protesters' camp, which has been in place since 2020.

Tensions at the site have increased in recent weeks, with the issue being particularly sensitive for Germany's Greens, who have spent years being heavily critical of coal mining but have come under fire for softening their stance since entering government.

While many Greens still oppose the mine's expansion, Economy Minister Robert Habeck has said the coal under the village is needed as the country faces an unprecedented energy crisis in light of the Russian war in Ukraine.

The authorities reached a deal last year with RWE to bring forward Germany’s coal phaseout in the region by eight years to 2030, with the company agreeing to save five villages planned for demolition and already cleared of people, but to destroy Lützerath as part of its expansion plans. 

Climate activists from the Fridays For Future group accused the Greens of abusing "the energy crisis to legitimize their controversial decision" on Lützerath.

All buildings and land in Lützerath now belong to RWE and eviction orders were issued by a local court that are valid from Tuesday. More than 1,000 officers are to be deployed daily to help with evictions.

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