Hundreds of anti-coal campaigners protest at German mine

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A coal fired power station steams near the Garzweiler surface coal mine in Germany, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. Several groups like 'Friday for Future' or 'Ende Gelaende' started actions for climate justice in the coming days throughout Germany. The movement demands that the German government phase out coal by 2030 and make Germany carbon neutral by 2035. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

LUETZERATH – Hundreds of anti-coal activists staged protesters in and around a mine in western Germany on Saturday, demonstrating against the continued extraction and use of fossil fuels in Europe's biggest economy.

Environmental groups oppose the German government's decision to allow the mining and burning of coal in the country until 2038, a deadline the activists say is too late to effectively tackle climate change.

Activists, dressed in colored overalls and braving wind and rain, were also protesting the planned destruction of several villages to make way for the expansion of the Garzweiler strip mine, west of Cologne.

An Associated Press reporter witnessed some protesters break through police lines early Saturday before they were detained by officers. Utility company RWE said some protesters also entered coal storage facilities.

Aachen police said they couldn't immediately provide a number for how many people attended the protests, which were staged at more than a dozen different sites around the vast, open-cast mine.

The campaign group Ende Gelaende said around 3,000 people took part in various activities, including the symbolic reopening of a shuttered bar in the doomed village of Keyenberg.

The Garzweiler mine and nearby power plants have been a focus of protests for several years. Environmentalists say they are among the biggest sources of harmful pollution and greenhouse gas emissions in Europe.

In her weekly video message, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Saturday for sustainable development, including to confront the threat of global warming.

Merkel cited Germany's increase in renewable energy production as an example of the measures her country has taken. She did not mention coal mines.


Frank Jordans reported from Berlin.