Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg was arrested by police on Tuesday while protesting an expansion of a coal mine in the western German village of Lützelath. Images and clips posted on her media show a climate change activist being whisked away by helmeted police officers.
Greta Thunberg was among a large group of activists who reportedly breached a police cordon and entered a mine not fully secured by officers, a police spokesman said. But law enforcement officials feared the ground could shake as a large group of protesters were already wet from rainfall. Police took people out of the “danger zone”, including Greta Thunberg. Climate activist Thunberg was a key speaker at Saturday’s protests and was arrested for the first time after returning on Sunday. She was arrested for the second time by police on Tuesday. A group of protesters will be released later in the day.
Thunberg joined thousands of other activists at the weekend’s protests against the demolition of a German village where European energy giant RWE plans to expand its Garzweiler open-pit lignite mine. After evicting the villagers, the energy giant plans to install a 1.5-kilometer fence around the village and seal off all buildings before eventual demolition.
Thousands protest against coal mine expansion
Thunberg said the fate of Lüzzarath and the expansion of the mine were important far beyond Germany. In the global fight against climate change, “what everyone does matters,” she told The Associated Press shortly before the protest. If one of the world’s biggest CO2 emitters did something like that, of course, it would affect everyone to a greater or lesser degree, especially those bearing the brunt of the climate crisis. The evacuation of Lützerath was well advanced when the demonstration took place.
The operation to clear out climate change activists hiding in villages began Wednesday morning. According to police, about 470 people left the scene during the first three days of the operation, 320 of whom left voluntarily. They said the remaining buildings and roofs were devoid of activists on Friday afternoon. They said they had to negotiate 15 more “structures” like treehouses on Saturday, and they were trying to enter a tunnel. Demolition of the building work had already begun.
Environmentalists on Lützelath’s Faith
Lützelath has become a prominent event to criticize Germany’s commitment to climate change. Environmentalists say bulldozing the village to expand the Garzweiler mine will emit large amounts of greenhouse gases. The government and utility RWE insist that coal is necessary to ensure Germany’s energy security. Last year, local and central governments, including the green party, committed to RWE by allowing it to demolish abandoned villages in exchange for ending coal use by 2030 instead of 2038.
Some speakers at Saturday’s demonstration attacked the Green Party. The Green party leader claims the deal has met the demands of many environmentalists and that he has saved five villages from demolition.
“It’s very weird to see the German government, including the Green party, make deals and compromise with companies like RWE, with fossil fuel companies, when they should rather be held accountable for all the damage and destruction they have caused,” Thunberg said.
“My message to the federal government is that they immediately stop what is happening here, stop the destruction, and ensure climate justice for all.