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‘Climate Leader’ Germany: Police Clear Protesters, New Coal Mining Imminent

Deutsche Welle

German police have expelled protesters in the Hambach Forest near Aachen. Environmental demonstrators have for years opposed plans to expand one of Germany’s largest open-pit coal mines.

    Police in the Hambacher Forst (picture-alliance/dpa/H. Kaiser)

Several hundred German police officers moved into Hambach Forest in western Germany on Wednesday to expel dozens of protesters.

The forest, located between the cities of Aachen and Cologne, hosts one of the country’s biggest open-pit coal mines.

The RWE energy company, which owns the forest, has intended to clear some 100 hectares (247 acres) of land in the Hambach Forest to mine for lignite — a brown, low-grade coal considered to be one of the most polluting fossil fuels — only to see its efforts repeatedly disrupted by environmental activists.

According to police, RWE officials also began removing forest logs and other obstacles from the forest floors designed to police and workers from accessing certain areas.

Police officials said the operation had been mostly peaceful, although officers had reported two small skirmishes with protesters.

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