The Death of a Village

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German riot police began dragging climate activists away from an abandoned village in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia this week, after more than a year of occupation by the protesters who were trying to prevent the expansion of a coal mine, the BBC reported.

The village of Lützerath is owned by the energy giant RWE and its last resident abandoned the area more than a year ago. RWE operates the nearby Garzweiler open coal mine and plans to begin excavating for lignite under the village.

But hundreds of climate protesters have been squatting in the village’s abandoned buildings for more than a year, trying to stop the energy firm by setting up barricades and treehouses to make eviction more difficult.

More than 1,000 police officers from across Germany took part in the operation, which is expected to take weeks.

Demonstrators said the new lignite mine will only benefit RWE and rejected the assertion that Germany needs coal to fulfill its energy requirements now that it could no longer rely on supplies from Russia.

The government has vowed to move up the phase-out of coal in North Rhine-Westphalia to 2030. The national goal is 2038.

RWE and the regional officials have agreed to limit the mine’s expansion while plans to demolish and excavate five additional villages have been abandoned.

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