LÜTZERATH: After the last farmer packed up and left in October, climate activists are the only people left in the village of Luetzerath, Germany, which sits above a rich vein of coal. In huts perched six metres above ground in the trees, the young campaigners say they can hold out against the authorities if they try to clear them out.
They are there in an effort to stop the village being bulldozed to allow the extension of a neighbouring open-air coal mine. They do not know when the police might come to force them out, but with Germany in need of more coal, most think it will be soon.
Europe’s largest economy has restarted part of its mothballed inventory of coal power plants to relieve the pressure on gas-powered facilities, following a cut to supplies from Russia in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine.
More than a thousand protesters descended Saturday on Luetzerath, now a symbol of the resistance to fossil fuels, to urge more action from participants at the COP27 conference in Egypt. Many had painted their faces with the words “Stop coal”.
Activists unfurled a huge yellow cross —a symbol against coal mine expansion—in a field. One by one, the residents of Luetzerath have left as their homes were expropriated and they were compensated and rehoused.