Activists form human chain demanding exit from coal mining

LUETZERATH, Germany (AP) — About 2,500 people in western Germany demonstrated Saturday for a quick halt to coal mining in the region, where a village could be bulldozed to make way for a mine.

Participants in the protest formed a 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) human chain between the threatened village of Luetzerath and nearby Keyenberg.

Luetzerath stands a few hundred meters (yards) away from a vast pit where German utility giant RWE is extracting lignite coal to burn in nearby power plants.

Coal mining is due to end in Germany by 2038, but environmentalists say it needs to stop at least 10 years earlier if the country is to play its part in meeting the Paris climate accord goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit).

“If we want to survive on this planet, we have to take measures now,” protester Michael Zobel told The Associated Press. “Survival on this planet is endangered and it starts right here. So coal mining needs to be stopped, and there will need to be other measures, too.”

The village of Luetzerath is located in North Rhine-Westphalia state, which was among the regions of Germany hit hardest by floods last months that killed more than 200 people and caused billions of euros (dollars) worth of damage.

Scientists have said that while it’s hard to attribute specific storms to climate change, extreme weather of the kind that caused the flash floods in parts of Western Europe last month will become more severe and frequent in a warming world.

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