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Climate activists seek to block German coal mine expansion

October 1, 2021 GMT
Climate activists protest against the Garzweiler open-cast coal mine with a sign reading "defend Luetzerath" in Luetzerath, western Germany, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The village of Luetzerath, now almost entirely abandoned as the mine draws ever closer, will be the latest village to disappear as coal mining at the Garzweiler mine expands. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Climate activists protest against the Garzweiler open-cast coal mine with a sign reading "defend Luetzerath" in Luetzerath, western Germany, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The village of Luetzerath, now almost entirely abandoned as the mine draws ever closer, will be the latest village to disappear as coal mining at the Garzweiler mine expands. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Climate activists protest against the Garzweiler open-cast coal mine with a sign reading "defend Luetzerath" in Luetzerath, western Germany, Friday, Oct. 1, 2021. The village of Luetzerath, now almost entirely abandoned as the mine draws ever closer, will be the latest village to disappear as coal mining at the Garzweiler mine expands. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner)

BERLIN (AP) — Environmentalists have chained themselves to giant excavators in an effort to halt the expansion of a vast open-pit coal mine in western Germany.

More than 20 climate activists clambered onto the diggers in the Garzweiler lignite mine in the early hours of Friday. Eight have since been removed, police said.

Garzweiler, operated by utility giant RWE, has become a focus of protests by people who want Germany to stop extracting and burning coal as soon as possible.

Activists and local residents say expanding the mine runs counter to Germany’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Paris climate accord’s target of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).

They also oppose the destruction of several villages and woods to make way for the mine. Some activists were camped out in the hamlet of Luetzerath to block workers from felling surrounding trees in preparation for the mine expansion.

“If (the expansion) happens, there‘s no chance of staying within 1.5 degrees,” activist Alexandra Bruene of the environmental group All Villages Remain said in a statement.