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Mounted police prepare to stop climate activists entering the Garzweiler lignite mine site near the condemned village of Luetzerath on Jan. 12. 

Mounted police prepare to stop climate activists entering the Garzweiler lignite mine site near the condemned village of Luetzerath on Jan. 12. 

Photographer: Ben Kilb/Bloomberg
Green
Climate Politics

This Village Is Standing in the Way of Germany’s Coal Revival

Europe’s largest economy is expanding a lignite mine to help it weather the energy crisis, but climate change activists are resisting.

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The protest started cheerfully enough on Wednesday, with music blaring and flags flying even under the driving rain. Then the police arrived, decked out in riot gear and backed by bulldozers, ready to demolish the village of Luetzerath to make way for the expansion of an opencast coal mine in the heart of Europe.

As Germany turns back to the dirtiest fossil fuel to counter a global energy crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this desolate settlement of drab brick houses and muddy fields has found itself at the heart of a broader debate about the future of the continent’s energy security —  and its consequences for a warming planet.