Police went ahead on Thursday with the eviction of an abandoned village in western Germanywhere activists have vowed to stay to prevent it from being demolished in the expansion of a coal mine.
Authorities resumed work after working overnight to get several activists off the roof of a agricultural warehouse abandoned in luetzerath and pull another from the wreckage of a car.
More of 200 ecologists have already left the place voluntarilytold ZDF television the police chief of Aachen Dirk Weinspachwhose force is in command of the operation.
The eviction of the warehouses should end on Thursday and after that the police will focus on several treehouses built by the protesters and in the houses that remain in the town, he added. “This will go step by step and with great Calm down Y prudenceWeinspach said.
The operation to drive out entrenched climate activists in luetzerath it began on Thursday morning, when some rocks, firecrackers and other objects were thrown at approaching officers, although without serious violent incidents. Most of the protest was peaceful.
Luetzerath has become the center of a debate about climate efforts in Germany.
Environmentalists say demolishing the town to expand the nearby Garzweiler mine would cause huge greenhouse gas emissions.
The government and power company RWE say coal is necessary to ensure Germany’s energy security. The utility RWE struck a deal with the regional government last year allowing the town to be destroyed in exchange for ending coal use by 2030, instead of 2038. The town’s last resident left in 2022 after being forced to sell to RWE.
Some protesters denounced an excessive use of force by the police and others said that the scale of the police deployment, with officers brought in from all over the country and water cannons in reserve, was an escalation not justified by the peaceful protest.
Debates about how far the civil disobedience have taken place in Germany and other countries in recent months, amid a wave of roadblocks and other shocking actions by protesters demanding tougher action to combat climate change.
On Tuesday, the protesters refused to abide by a court ruling which prevented them from entering the area. Some dug trenches, built barricades and climbed on giant tripods to prevent the heavy machines from reaching the village, before the police forcibly drove them back.
but some activists They claim that ultimately the law is on your sideciting a Supreme Court ruling of 2021 that forced the Government to redouble its efforts to reduce emissions. They also point to the legally binding nature of Germany’s commitments under the Paris climate agreement.
The regional and national governments, which in both cases include the Green Party, reached an agreement with RWE last year to allow the destruction of the abandoned town in exchange for ending coal use by 2030 instead of 2038.
Studies indicate that some 110 million metric tons of coal from the subsoil of luetzerath.
Critics counter that burning so much coal would make it much harder for Germany, and the world, to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as agreed in the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Luetzerath “is now the European place of crystallization of the climate movement”, declared Lakshmi Thevasagayamspokesperson for the activist group Lives of Luetzerath. “We oppose RWE going one meter with its excavators, because we know that the coal under Luetzerath is not necessary for energy security: it must stay underground so that we can reach the climate justice”.
The head of the regional branch of the Deutsche Polizeigewerkschaft police union, Erich Rettinghaus, claimed that the police were acting “very carefully” and were giving protesters every chance to demonstrate peacefully. However, he noted that there were concerns about the possibility of trouble as potentially violent protesters from all over Europe had gathered at the site in recent days.
“The protest is a symbolic protest“, said. “The concerns are understandable; climate protection is important, but energy must remain affordable for everyone”, he added, pointing to the commitment that provides for the early end of the use of coal.
The public services company reported in a statement that one of the first measures will be the construction of a 1.5 kilometer fence around the site.
He said that he “appeals to the illegal squatters to respect the Rule of law and peacefully end the illegal occupation of buildings, plants and sites belonging to RWE”.
Stephan Pusch, head of the Erkelenz district administration in which the village is located, told a town hall meeting on Tuesday that while he was sympathetic to the protesters’ goals, the time had come to leave Luetzerath. “They achieved their goal. Now clear the field, ”he said to boos from the room.
Pusch warned protesters that intentionally breaking the law would not help their cause in a country where the violent seizure of power and the horrors of dictatorship are still in living memory. “I will tell you honestly that I am afraid that my children will grow up in a world that is no longer worth living in,” he said. “But it gives me at least the same fear that my children will grow up in a country in which each one takes justice into their own hands.”
The unusual battle for an abandoned village in Germany