Lutzerath: Why are people protesting at coal village where Greta Thunberg was detained?

Coal mine expansion has long been flashpoint for tensions over Germany’s energy policies

News of climate activist Greta Thunberg’s detention by police near the German village of Lutzerath has drawn further attention to controversial plans for a coal mine’s expansion, which she has labelled a “betrayal” by the government.

While perhaps the most recognisable, the Swedish campaigner is among thousands of people who have been compelled to take part in demonstrations at the North Rhine-Westphalia village in recent years, which has become a flashpoint for German climate activists seeking an end to fossil fuels.

[A]ctivists argue that fossil fuels must remain in the ground to avert climate breakdown. Addressing some 6,000 protesters marching on Lutzerath on Saturday, Ms Thunberg called the mine’s expansion a “betrayal of present and future generations”.

“Germany is one of the biggest polluters in the world and needs to be held accountable,” she said, adding: “The most affected people are clear, the science is clear, we need to keep the carbon in the ground.

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

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Global climate strike: thousands join coordinated action across world

Hundreds of thousands of people in 99 countries have taken part in a coordinated global climate strike demanding urgent action to tackle the ecological crisis.

The strike on Friday, the first worldwide climate action since the coronavirus pandemic hit, is taking place weeks before the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow, UK.

In Germany, two days before the country’s general election, Greta Thunberg told a crowd of more than 100,000 people that “no political party” was doing enough.

The Swedish activist, whose solo strike in 2018 inspired the global Fridays for Future movement, told cheering supporters they needed to keep up the pressure on Germany’s political leaders past election day.

“Yes, we must vote, you must vote, but remember that voting only will not be enough. We must keep going into the streets,” she said.

Organisers of the global event said there were protests in more than 1,800 towns and cities around the world with large events in Europe, Africa and North and South America.

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