Greta Thunberg detained at German coal mine protest
Climate activist Greta Thunberg is carried away by police during a rally near the German village of Luetzerath, slated for demolition.
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg has been hauled away and detained during a protest near a German village being razed to make way for a coal mine expansion.
Thunberg has been in Germany for several days to support demonstrations against the demolition of Luetzerath, which has become a symbol of resistance against fossil fuels.
Images showed the activist, dressed in black, being picked up by police officers wearing helmets and then escorted to a waiting bus on Tuesday.
A police spokeswoman said a group of activists were in custody after having “broken away from the demonstration”, and ran towards the edge of an open pit. Officials were working to identify the protesters in custody, and a decision would be made later about what further action to take.
The spokeswoman added the activists had not been formally arrested.
On Saturday, Thunberg joined thousands of demonstrators in a large-scale protest against the demolition of the hamlet, marching at the front of a procession.
She said it was “shameful” that the German government was “making deals and compromises with fossil fuel companies”.
On Monday, the last two climate activists occupying the village to stop it from being demolished left their self-built underground tunnel, marking the end of the police operation to evict them.
About 300 activists had occupied the hamlet, staking out emptied buildings and constructing positions in the trees, to try and prevent the expansion of the adjacent Garzweiler open-cast coal mine.
Luetzerath has been deserted for some time by its original inhabitants as plans move forward for the expansion of the mine, one of the largest in Europe, operated by energy firm RWE.
Police launched an operation last week to clear the protest camp. The end of the operation came despite Saturday’s demonstration, which was attended by thousands, with protesters holding banners with slogans including “Stop coal” and “Luetzerath lives!”
Protest planners accused authorities of “violence” after clashes between police and participants, which resulted in injuries on both sides.
RWE has permission for the expansion of the mine under a compromise agreement signed with the government, led by Social Democrat Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Under the deal agreed in October, Luetzerath will be demolished while five neighbouring villages are spared. RWE also agreed to stop producing electricity with coal in western Germany by 2030 – eight years earlier than previously planned.
With Russia’s gas supply cut in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, Germany has fallen back on coal, firing up closed plants.
Proponents say the extension of the mine is necessary to secure Germany’s future energy supply. But activists argue that extracting the coal will mean Germany misses targets under the key Paris Agreement on climate change.
Elsewhere in western Germany, dozens of climate activists glued themselves to a main street in Germany’s western city of Cologne and to a state government building in Dusseldorf. Near Rommerskirchen, a group of about 120 activists also occupied the coal railroad tracks to the Neurath power plant, according to police and energy company RWE.
Those who refused to leave the tracks were carried away, Germany’s dpa news agency reported.