climate change

What Thousands of Protesters Storming a Coal Mine Looks Like

Around 60,000 people took part in a weekend of climate action, occupying the world's largest brown coal mine.

by David Tesinsky
26 June 2019, 12:01pm

All photos: David Tesinsky

This article originally appeared on VICE Netherlands.

Last weekend, thousands of climate activists from all over Europe stormed the Rhineland in western Germany and occupied Garzweiler II – the largest brown coal mine in the world.

Garzweiler II is a 50-square-kilometre open pit that contains around 1.3 billion tons of lignite, which is even worse than black coal because it doesn't burn as efficiently, so it can produce up to 30 percent more greenhouse gas emissions. The Garzweiler II coal mine so big that 12 German villages had to disappear to make room for the mine, with more relocations expected in the future. And the mine is not only damaging to the landscape and environment, but combined with its associated coal-fuelled power plants, it's the largest producer of carbon dioxide on the continent.

The activists from the German climate action group Ende Gelände stormed the mine wearing white overalls and pollution masks, blocking roads and diggers as they demanded a stop to the coal mining. "The climate crisis demands an immediate coal phase out," Ende Gelände said in a press release. "Because politicians are failing we are stopping the diggers ourselves."

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The police were already waiting for them, though. According to a spokesperson for Ende Gelande, many of the demonstrators were arrested and held for over ten hours, with little to eat or drink, with both protesters and police officers reported to have been injured.

While the activists of Ende Gelande occupied Garzweiler II, down the road in the city of Aachen, 8,000 people turned up for a peaceful demonstration against coal mining. At the same site the day before, around 40,000 people attended another climate march organised by Fridays for Future.

Photographer David Tesinsky was at the occupation on Saturday and captured the scene.

Scroll down to see more of his photos.

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