Greta Thunberg with activists in Lutzerath: “Leave lignite underground”

Third day of police operations to clear the town occupied by climate protesters

Greta Thunberg went to Lutzerath today, on the third day of police operations to clear the town in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia occupied by climate protesters. The Swedish activist came to show her solidarity with the occupants of Lutzerath, who are protesting against plans to raze the settlement as part of the expansion of the lignite deposit which is in the area. Thunberg had herself photographed with them, after visiting the crater of the open-cast lignite mine, holding a sign that read ‘leave it underground’.

The young activist then harshly criticized the police intervention, speaking of “outrageous… police violence”. “It is shocking – he declared – to see what is happening. We want to show what people’s power is like, what democracy is like. When governments and corporations act in this way, destroying the environment, putting so many people at risk , people come forward.”

There Administrative court in Aachen has given the green light to the demonstration scheduled for tomorrow in Lutzerath. The police had asked for a number of safeguards and changes to get the demonstration on site, including a change in the time of the demonstration, and a ban on demonstrators driving ten tractors to the site. The Court banned tractors but allowed the demonstration to be organized according to the planned schedule. Further appeals are possible.

The German Chancellor Olaf Scholz criticized the protesters who occupied the village of Lutzerath. “I too have demonstrated a lot in the past. But for me there is a line that has been crossed where protests become violent,” he told the Taz newspaper.

Scholz rejected allegations that Germany’s climate goals are at risk with the development of the lignite mine under Lutzerath. “This accusation is not true. It is quite the opposite: we are acting in order to achieve our climate goals,” he said.

“Perhaps the protest should be directed against the fact that it takes six years to get a wind turbine approved. If we want to achieve the energy transition, we need more speed,” Scholz added. “The goal must be to install three to four large wind turbines in Germany every day.”