Hundreds of climate activists occupy giant German coal mine

Photo: AFP

Several hundred climate activists evaded police to enter an open-cast mine run by energy giant RWE in western Germany Saturday, a day after tens of thousands campaigned against the use of coal.

The activists, many dressed in white overalls and carrying sleeping bags, got into the vast Garzweiler lignite mine after a cat-and-mouse game with police, an AFP journalist said.

They ignored earlier police warnings that the site was not safe and a caution from RWE that they would prosecute trespassers.

The activists, using blankets to protect against the sun, were quickly encircled by police and their vehicles to prevent them advancing further.
The action was part of a series of protest planned over the weekend.

Garzweiler, which covers 48 square kilometres (18 square mile), supplies lignite, or brown coal, to power stations in the region.

The declared aim of the "Ende Gelaende" (EG) protests is to shut down its operations.

On Friday, 500 activists cut off the supply of coal to the Neurath plant, one of Germany's main coal-fired power stations, by sitting down on the rail tracks the supply trains use.

The German phrase "Ende Gelaende" means that something is irrevocably finished - similar to "end of story" - which is how the protesters feel about the fossil fuel age.

With this new generation of protesters, the authorities must contend with large numbers of activists who are committed to - and often trained in - non-violent civil disobedience.

More protests
A few kilometres from Garzweiler, some 8,000 people protested Saturday in the town of Keyenberg, which is threatened by plans to expand the mine.
"This day is a reason to hope," said EG spokeswoman Kathrin Henneberger.

Many of those who took part in the protest were school pupils and students who were part of the "Fridays for Future" demonstrations the day before.

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