'Green'-oriented Germany to demolish village for coal mine
A village in western Germany will be bulldozed to make way for a coal mine.
A village in western Germany will be demolished to make way for a coal mine, despite Berlin accelerating its plans to go green.
The impending bulldozing of the pastoral village of Lutzerath is currently raising questions about a German law that is said to be outdated and that prioritizes extractive industries over green policies. These practices highlight the challenges a country dependent on coal will face as it attempts to pivot away from fossil fuels.
Wiebke Witt, a German campaigner with civil society organization Europe Beyond Coal, said the anachronistic German law says that lignite mines that supply coal power plants serve the public interest.
“This definitely needs to change, because we are seeing that it’s not in the public interest to burn coal. It’s the opposite. It’s the worst energy resource that we have in Germany for the climate in terms of carbon emissions,” she added.
The village of Lutzerath, which sits at the edge of an open-pit coal mine, isn't the only village in the area that's been threatened by the increase in mining, as homes, highways, and historical landmarks have been demolished in the interest of lignite-mining facilities.
Lignite is a type of wet coal used mostly to generate electricity and is the only coal Germany still produces. Hard coal was phased out from Germany in 2018 and is now imported from countries like Russia, which accounted for half of Germany's imports until the war in Ukraine.
Germany made the decision at the end of 2021 to shut down three of its nuclear power plants, as part of a plan to phase out nuclear energy. The move reduced the country's power output by four gigatons. Germany intends to phase out nuclear energy entirely by the end of 2022 and plans to increase renewable energy production.
However, until renewables are ramped up, Berlin will rely on fossil fuels to fill the void left by the nuclear exit.
Last week, Germany's Cabinet approved a draft legislation that would accelerate the expansion of renewable energy. According to the bill, renewable energy should generate 80% of the country's energy needs by 2030.