Hundreds of climate activists are keeping up their protest inside one of Germany’s biggest open-pit mines despite police orders to leave the place immediately, citing life-threatening danger.
Authorities pulled out some of the protesters from the Garzweiler lignite coal mine in western Germany on Sunday, the third day of protests in the Rhineland region since Friday, when 40,000 students rallied for more action against climate change in the nearby city of Aachen.
Other protesters blocked railroad tracks used to transport coal, a day after thousands of demonstrators marched peacefully near the mine.
Protesters and police inside the mine accused each other of hostile behavior and injuries, but no one gave any figures.
The protests come after European Union leaders failed last week to agree on how to make the EU carbon neutral by 2050.
On Saturday, dozens of protesters temporarily blocked railroad tracks used to transport coal. The vast majority of rallies and protests remained peaceful.
The mine has been a focus of environmental protests in recent years because the operator, German utility company RWE, planned to cut down a forest to enlarge it.
“It’s important to increase the pressure on the government,” protester Selma Schubert said. “The government doesn’t do enough against climate change.”
Participants in the Saturday protests held banners calling for climate protection and sang songs as they marched. According to German environmental group Bund, more than 8,000 people took part.
“You’re building a movement, that’s beautiful,” Seimi Rowin, who came from Scotland to protest, said. “But we need to get to the next step … otherwise future generations will pay for it.”
Following months of climate protests by students and a sharp rise in the polls for Germany’s Green party, Chancellor Angela Merkel recently threw her weight behind the goal of making Germany climate neutral by 2050.
That would mean the country’s economy no longer would add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
Scientists say ending fossil fuel use by mid-century is a must if countries want to achieve the 2015 Paris climate accord’s most ambitious goal of keeping global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times.