The New York TimesThe New York Times

Germany's new hunger for coal dooms a tiny village

By Christopher F. Schuetze and Erika Solomon

13 Oct 2022 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

Europe’s energy crisis has inverted German politics so much that Green Party politicians are defending the use of coal—at least temporarily. The NYT shows how this is playing out in one German town.

LÜTZERATH, Germany — For months, die-hard environmental activists have camped in the fields and occupied the trees in this tiny farming village in western Germany, hoping that like-minded people from across the country would arrive and help stop the expansion of a nearby open-pit coal mine that threatened to swallow the village and its farms.

They had reason to be optimistic. Mass protests led the German government to step in and save an old-growth forest from coal expansion just two years ago. And the Green party notched its best showing ever in elections last year, a sign of how fighting climate change had become a winning political issue in Europe’s largest economy.

Sign in to informed

  • Curated articles from premium publishers, ad-free
  • Concise Daily Briefs with quick-read summaries
  • Read, listen, save for later, or enjoy offline
  • Enjoy personalized content