Climate activist Greta Thunberg joined about 6,000 protesters in Germany who marched through rain and mud to voice their opposition to the expansion of a coal mine on Saturday.
Protesters walked to the village of Luetzerath, about 90 minutes outside Düsseldorf.
The village is expected to be destroyed to make way for the coal mine – a move which activists say symbolizes Berlin’s failed climate policy.
“This is a betrayal of current and future generations … Germany is one of the biggest polluters in the world and must be held accountable,” Thunberg told the podium, after being seen parading with a paper sign boasting the German phrase “Luetzi stays “, which is a short name of the village.
“Germany is ashamed right now,” Thunberg said before the protest began.
Local media reported clashes between police and protesters, who have occupied the village in the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia for two years in a bid to stop the expansion by energy company RWE.
After a ruling that allowed RWE to go ahead, more than 1,000 police in riot gear chased hundreds of protesters into the village earlier this week. the Guardian reports.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck told Spiegel Lutzerath that it was the “wrong symbol” to take a stand.
“It’s the last place where brown coal will be mined — not a symbol of more of the same, but of the final frontier,” Habeck said Friday.
But activists, including Thunberg, said Germany should focus on renewable energy rather than coal mining.
“The science is clear: we need to keep carbon in the ground,” Thunberg said.
The 19-year-old climate activist recently made headlines for feuding with incendiary influencer Andrew Tate before and after his arrest in Romania on kidnapping and rape charges.
The online spat began when Tate tagged Thunberg in a post showing off his 33 cars, asking for her email address so he could brag about the pollution levels his cars produce.
“Yes, please enlighten me. email me at smalld–email@example.com,” Thunberg wrote in a post that received nearly 4 million likes.