Climate activist Greta Thunberg was arrested by German police in a protest against the expansion of a coal mine in the West German village of Lützerath.
This is the second time Thunberg has been held at the site, police spokesman Christof Hüls told CNN on Tuesday. She was part of a large group of protesters who broke through a police barrier and encroached on a coal mine, which authorities were unable to fully secure, Hüls said.
After the group advanced on the coal mine, police feared the “masses of protesters” would set the ground in motion after it had been softened by rains over the past few days. Officers responded, removing people from the “danger zone” and arresting them, including Thunberg, according to police.
“We knew who she was, but she didn’t get VIP treatment,” Hüls said. “She did not resist,” he added.
Thunberg had been the main speaker at the rally on Saturday and had “surprisingly” returned to protest on Sunday when she was first arrested and then again on Tuesday, he said.
Police said the group arrested on Tuesday would be released later in the day, Reuters reported.
Thunberg joined thousands of other activists and protesters taking part in the weekend protests against the German village razing that would make way for an expansion of the Garzweiler lignite coal mine, which is owned by European energy giant RWE . Once the eviction is complete, RWE plans to build a 1.5 kilometer perimeter fence around the village, sealing off village buildings, streets and sewers before they are demolished.
The coal mine expansion is important to climate activists. They argue that continuing to burn coal for energy will increase global warming emissions and violate the ambition of the Paris Climate Agreement to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees. Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Lignite is the most polluting type of coal, which is itself the most polluting fossil fuel.
Thunberg tweeted on Friday that she was in Lützerath to protest the expansion and asked others to join. On Saturday, Thunberg addressed activists. “The carbon is still in the ground,” she said. “And as long as the carbon is in the ground, this fight is not over.”
“We must stop the current destruction of our planet and sacrifice people for the benefit of short-term economic growth and corporate greed,” she said.
Clashes between activists and police have continued this month, and photos of protests showed police wearing riot gear to expel protesters. Some of the protesters have been in Lützerath for more than two years, CNN previously reportedoccupying homes abandoned by former residents after they were evicted to make way for the mine.
More than 1,000 police officers were involved in the eviction operation. Most of the buildings in the village have now been cleared and replaced with earthmoving equipment.
RWE and Germany’s Green Party both reject the claim that the mine expansion will increase overall emissions, saying EU caps mean additional carbon emissions can be offset. But several climate reports have made clear the need to accelerate clean energy and the transition from fossil fuels. Recent studies also suggest that Germany may not even need additional coal. A August report by the international research platform Coal Transitions has found that even if coal-fired power plants are operating at very high capacity until the end of this decade, they already have more coal available than needed from existing supplies.
This story has been updated with more information.