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Thousands Rally to Protest Destruction of German Village for Coal Mine Expansion

Greta Thunberg criticized Germany’s Green Party for supporting the demolition of the village of Lützerath.

Climate activists Luisa Neubauer (L) and Greta Thunberg (R) stand on the third day of the eviction in the lignite hamlet of Lützerath occupied by climate activists in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, on January 13, 2023.

Thousands of people demonstrated in the pouring rain on Saturday protesting the clearance and demolition of a village in western Germany that is due to make way for the expansion of the coal mine Garzweiler.

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg joined the demonstrators as they protested the clearance of Luetzerath, walking through the nearby village of Keyenberg. Protesters chanted “Every village stays” and “You are not alone.”

Activists from climate action groups including Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion and Last Generation came from across the country to join the protest.

Thunberg criticized Germany’s Green Party on Saturday for supporting the demolition of the village of Lützerath

German outlet dpa reported:

Making deals with fossil fuel corporations such as energy giant RWE – which has bought the site of Lützerath for mining – “show where their priorities are”, Thunberg said of the Greens, who form part of Germany’s coalition government, in an interview with dpa.

Leading Green politicians such as Economy Minister Robert Habeck have defended the demolition of Lützerath, arguing that the coal below is needed to maintain energy security in the current crisis.

“The coal that is in the ground here will not lower prices immediately. Anyone who thinks like that is simply out of touch with reality,” Thunberg said.

The Greens are also in power in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, where the village of Lützerath has become the latest flashpoint for activists opposed to the government’s continued use of coal.

During a visit to Lützerath Friday afternoon, 20-year-old Thunberg said it was “horrible to see what’s happening here.”

“We expect to show what people power looks like, what democracy looks like. When governments and corporations are acting like this, destroying the environment, putting countless people at risk, the people step up,” she said.

The climate activist also referred to “outrageous … police violence” occurring at the site.

Thunberg held up a sign that read, “Keep it in the ground.”

Sara Ayech, Global Campaign Lead for Climate at Greenpeace International said Saturday: “We’re in 2023, in the middle of a climate crisis, and while destroying a village to expand one of the biggest carbon bombs in Europe should be considered criminal, it is still legal. Fossil fuel companies’ influence is so powerful that the ones considered criminals now are the ones fighting for climate justice. It is time to hold fossil fuel companies accountable.”

Environmentalists say bulldozing the village to expand the Garzweiler mine would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions.

The local and national governments, both of which include the Green party, made a deal with fossil fuel giant RWE last year allowing it to destroy the village in return for a promise to end coal use by 2030, rather than 2038.