Lützerath: Demonstrators, police clash near German coal mine – TBEN – 14/01/2023


German police clashed with climate activists in the village of Lützerath on Saturday as the standoff between authorities and activists continued for a fourth day.

Police had been working to remove activists from the site to make way for the demolition of the village.

Lisa Neubauer of Fridays for Future told the German news agency that police had used pepper spray on activists in isolated incidents.

The police called on demonstrators to leave the area, otherwise officers risk using water cannons and using physical force.

Earlier on Saturday, regional police said barriers had been broken and urged people to leave the area.

“Police barriers have been broken. To the people of Luetzerath: leave this area immediately,” the police said.

“Some people have entered the mine. Get out of the danger zone immediately!”

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Greta Thunberg joins protesters

Activists and demonstrators began to gather at noon for a large demonstration a stalemate between authorities and activists pending.

“This is a betrayal of present and future generations… Germany is one of the biggest polluters in the world and must be held accountable,” Thunberg said on a podium during the protest.

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

According to police estimates, about 10,000 protesters took part in the demonstration. Protest organizers estimate the number of participants at 35,000.

Thousands also protested against RWE’s plans to extract coal on the site in nearby Keyenberg.

What do we know about the evacuation of Lützerath?

Police said most of the West German village has been “above ground” cleared of activists, a spokesman said Saturday morning. But several still occupy 15 buildings, both underground and in treehouses.

According to the police, about 470 people have been removed from the site, 320 of them voluntarily.

The demolition of the village of Lützerath is part of a compromise reached by the German government to postpone the planned phase-out of coal-fired power plants by eight years to 2030.

As part of the deal, RWE was allowed to expand its huge Garzweiler II open-pit mine to Lützerath, where some 280 million tonnes of coal would be excavated.

Greta Thunberg urged the Germans to support environmentalists who opposed the eviction of the villageImage: Oliver Berg/photo alliance/dpa

Thunberg explodes German green party

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg arrived in Germany on Friday and joined activists at the site. She criticized the German Green Party for supporting the demolition of Lützerath.

The Green Party is part of Germany’s federal government coalition, along with the Social Democrats and Free Democrats, but is also part of a state-level coalition in North Rhine-Westphalia, the state where Lützerath is located.

Robert Habeck, a member of the Greens and Germany’s economics minister, defended the demolition of the village, arguing that the coal underneath is needed to maintain energy security in the current crisis caused by the Russian war in Ukraine.

Making deals with fossil fuel companies like RWE “shows where their priorities lie,” Thunberg said in an interview with dpa.

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

jcg/sms (TBEN, dpa, TBEN)