The village on the climate front line

Is protesting our duty?

Is protesting our duty? Activists gathered in a German village set to be demolished to make way for a coal mine believe it is proof of the country’s failure to act on the climate crisis

Soon, the village of Lützerath will be swallowed by a giant pit. The coal beneath these now empty houses will end up as smoke, billowing from the nearby Neurath power plant. As much as 280 million more tonnes of carbon dioxide will end up in the atmosphere.

To stop this from happening, hundreds of activists flocked to the tiny village in the west of Germany. They took over its empty houses and barns, determined to stop the mining machinery from making its way through.

This Wednesday, police stormed into the hamlet, arresting activists and clearing the path for mining to begin.

The German government, despite pledging to end coal-fired power, has argued that coal is vital to keeping the lights on this winter. The war in Ukraine has halted the flow of natural gas from Russia. Germany needs coal, they say, to face down Vladimir Putin.

So Germany’s leaders have made a deal with an energy company which allows them to mine lignite, the most carbon polluting fuel, from this area.

The clearing of the protestors has sparked fierce debate in Germany.

The activists who have barricaded themselves into the village believe Lützerath’s fate, torn to the ground to find more fossil fuel industry, is a warning to the rest of the world.