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People take part in a protest against the destruction of a village for the expansion of the Garzweiler lignite open cast mine near Lützerath, western Germany, on April 23, 2022. German energy provider RWE is planning to entirely demolish houses in the village of Lützerath for coal mining. (Photo: Bernd Lauter/AFP via Getty Images)

People take part in a protest against the destruction of a village for the expansion of the Garzweiler lignite open cast mine near Lützerath, western Germany, on April 23, 2022. German energy provider RWE is planning to entirely demolish houses in the village of Lützerath for coal mining. (Photo: Bernd Lauter/AFP via Getty Images)

'We Will Stop the Excavators': Thousands Rally to Save German Village From Coal Mine Expansion

Locals and climate campaigners said "no to the destruction" and "yes to the preservation of Lützerath and the good life for everyone."

Andrea Germanos

A small German village was the site of a large demonstration over the weekend, when thousands of activists gathered to protest the slated demolition of Lützerath that would allow for the expansion of the already gargantuan Garzweiler open-pit coal mine.

Lützerath is slated to suffer the same fate as other nearby villages that have been destroyed in western Germany as the country's major power producer RWE, which operates the mine, continues to dig up the lignite, also known as brown coal.

That extraction continues even as the country touts its plans to accelerate a transition to renewable energy sources including a 2030 exit for coal.

"We will stop the excavators and defend the 1.5°C limit!" Fridays for Future Germany said Sunday in a tweet referring to the Paris climate agreement's warming threshold.

The group, which said roughly 4,000 people took part in the action, also shared video of the Saturday protest that showed activists forming an X and revealed just how close to the mine's edge the village sits:

"A big, human ✖️ says NO to the destruction by lignite and YES to the preservation of Lützerath and the good life for everyone," the LuetziBleibt account explained.

Saturday's action, The Associated Press reported, took place "weeks after the village's last farmer sold his property to the utility company RWE after losing a court case against his eviction. The village is still inhabited by activists, some of whom have built tree houses in a bid to stop the nearby Garzweiler mine from being expanded."

Images shared on social media by the climate activists show that farmer, Eckardt Heukamp, speaking at the action sporting a t-shirt with the message Alle Dörfer Bleiben, or All Villages Remain.

"I am grateful that you have come and that the fight goes on," he reportedly said. "We must fight to keep the coal in the ground, keep the soil, and keep the villages!"


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