German riot police pushed forward on Thursday with the clearance of a condemned village in west Germany, which climate activists had been occupying to protest against the expansion of a nearby coal mine.
The village of Luetzerath is set to be demolished to make way for the expansion of the nearby Garzweiler coal mine, which the government and utility company RWE argue is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.
But environmentalists say that bulldozing the village to expand the mine would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions, and many took to occupying the village to prevent it from happening.
The operation to clear out the climate activists holed up in Luetzerath began on Wednesday morning, with some stones, fireworks and other objects thrown at officers but no major violence. Most of the protest was peaceful.
Aachen police chief Dirk Weinspach, whose force is in charge of the operation, told ZDF television that more than 200 activists had already left the site voluntarily. But several people remain in scattered buildings and makeshift tree houses built by the protesters.
Germany has been working to secure its energy independence since Russia invaded Ukraine last February.
Russia, which supplied most of Germany’s natural gas, stopped supplying gas to Europe in response to Western sanctions.
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