Thousands plan to raze German village for coal mine | Economic news

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BERLIN (AP) — Thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday against plans to bulldoze a village in western Germany to expand a coal mine that environmental activists say should be closed, not expanded.

German news agency dpa quoted police in the afternoon as saying the protest in Luetzerath, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of Cologne, passed off peacefully. About 2,000 people took part, dpa reported.

It came weeks after the last farmer in the village sold his property to utility company RWE after losing a case against his eviction. The village is still inhabited by activists, some of whom have built treehouses in an attempt to prevent the expansion of the nearby Garzweiler mine.

Climate activists argue that the village and others nearby should not be demolished because burning the coal that is still in the ground undermines Germany’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Among those attending the protest was Ilyess El Kortbi, a Ukrainian climate activist, who criticized Germany for continuing to buy coal, oil and gas from Russia, arguing it helps fund Russia’s destructive war against his country.

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Some German officials have countered that to reduce Russian imports of fossil fuels in the short term, Germany must rely on other energy sources, including lignite coal mined at Garzweiler.

The coal-fired power plants near the mine are among the biggest emitters in the European Union of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas.

Recent opinion polls show a significant increase in voter support for the Greens party ahead of next month’s regional elections in North Rhine-Westphalia, where the mine is located.

Follow AP’s climate coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/climate

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