Greta Thunberg physically removed from protest site by police in Germany

Thunberg stands between Keyenberg and Lützerath under police guard on the edge of an open pit mine (DPA/AP)
Thunberg stands between Keyenberg and Lützerath under police guard on the edge of an open pit mine (DPA/AP)

Climate activist Greta Thunberg was forcibly removed along with other activists from a protest site in a German town about to razed down to the ground to make way for a coal mine.

Police were deployed to the mining town in the North Rhine-Westphalia region last week to clear the area, resulting in several clashes.

The 20-year-old Ms Thunberg joined thousands of demonstrators in the German village of Lutzerath on Saturday, marching past muddy fields at the coal mine site amid rains.

She said the German government’s compromise deal with the owner of the coal mine was “shameful”.

Germany is really embarrassing itself right now,” Ms Thunberg said. “I think it’s absolutely absurd that this is happening the year 2023.”

“The most affected people are clear, the science is clear, we need to keep the carbon in the ground,” the Swedish activist added.

“When governments and corporations are acting like this, are actively destroying the environment, putting countless pf people at risk, the people step up.”

On Sunday German police forcefully ejected her and 10 other demonstrators who refused to comply with orders to vacate the area, according to local newspaper Bild.

Ms Thunberg left the coal mine site at 5.10pm local time and headed to the nearby village of Keyenberg.

Earlier, several clashes were reported at the protest sites between the police and demonstrators. More than 70 police officers and nine climate activists have been reportedly injured during clashes between the two sides.

Climate activists have been squatting in the village for more than two years to protest its demolition to accommodate an extension of the Garzweiler coal mine.

Protest against the expansion of the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine (REUTERS)
Protest against the expansion of the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine (REUTERS)

The German government decided to raze the town to the ground in order to expand an existing mine to produce more coal, the dirtiest of all fossil fuels, as part of the government’s efforts to increase energy security in the country.

This was part of a “compromise” deal reached with energy giant RWE last year allowing it to destroy the abandoned village in return for ending coal use by 2030, rather than 2038.

Climate activists have been organising against the Green Party which is in power at both the regional and national level in coalition, to oppose the expansion of the coal mine. Green Party leaders argue that the deal fulfils many of the environmentalists’ demands and saved five other villages from demolition.

“It’s very weird to see the German government, including the Green party, make deals and compromise with companies like RWE, with fossil fuel companies, when they should rather be held accountable for all the damage and destruction they have caused,” Ms Thunberg said.

“My message to the German government is that they should stop what’s happening here immediately, stop the destruction, and ensure climate justice for everyone.”