Thousands of protesters from across Europe demonstrated Friday and Saturday near a coal mine in western Germany, urging governments to take bolder action against climate change. Organizers believe up to 20,000 people participated, according to The Associated Press.
Demonstrators held signs calling for change in Aachen, which is located near the Belgium and Netherlands border. German police mobilized hundreds of officers and a water cannon to prevent protesters from blocking the mine, as more people are expected to gather at the site over the weekend.
“Germany, among other industrial nations, is one of the countries mainly responsible for climate change,” protester Paula Maas, 21, told The Associated Press. “We do not feel the effects yet in comparison to the countries in the global south, and it is simply essential to take to the streets against it and to protest.”
Chancellor Angela Merkel has made efforts to push the country forward in fighting climate change by setting a goal to make the entire German economy climate-neutral by 2050. This would mean Germany would no longer create any man-made greenhouse gases that would be released to the atmosphere.
The protests come only days after European Union leaders disagreed on a similar plan. Several large European countries — including Britain, France and Germany — have backed the target. Coal-reliant countries in the east, including Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, blocked the move.