Greta Thunberg smiled as she was carried off by German police

The One Show hosts interview Greta Thunberg

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Climate activist icon Greta Thunberg was seen being removed by police officers during a massive protest against a coal mine expansion in Germany. The 20-year-old Swede joined thousands occupying the village of Luetzerath in the west of the country in a bid to block the Garzweiler coal mine on Sunday. Police said Thunberg briefly sat on an embankment at the edge of the mine and officers carried her a few steps away after didn’t comply with calls to move for her own safety, German newspaper Bild reported, adding that she then went on her way.

Pictures of Greta at the site over the weekend show the global climate leader mixing with protesters and delivering speeches to the crowd. In an interview, she called the plans to expand the coal mine “absurd”.

Environmentalists say bulldozing the village to expand the Garzweiler mine would result in huge amounts of greenhouse gas emissions. The government and utility company RWE argue that coal is needed to ensure Germany’s energy security.

The regional and national governments, both of which include the environmentalist Green party, reached a deal with RWE last year allowing it to destroy the abandoned village in return for ending coal use by 2030, rather than 2038.

Germany has also been increasingly under pressure to find other energy supplies since Russia started the war in Ukraine.

The Greens’ leaders argue that the deal fulfils many of the environmentalists’ demands and saved five other villages from demolition and that Luetzerath is the wrong symbol for protests. Activists reject that stance.

Police said in a statement Sunday that nearly 300 people have been removed so far from Luetzerath. They added that “the rescue by RWE Power of the two people in underground structures continues; beyond that, the clearance by police is complete.”

They said that 12 people were detained in connection with Saturday’s incidents. Demolition of the buildings in Luetzerath is already underway.

The village has now been cleared of activists, apart from a pair who remained holed up in a tunnel, police said Sunday.

The operation to evict climate activists who flocked to the site in the hamlet of Luetzerath kicked off Wednesday morning and progressed steadily over the following days. Police cleared people out of farm buildings, the few remaining houses and a few dozen makeshift constructions such as tree houses.

Global leaders are meeting in the Middle East this week to discuss climate change. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Monday that his nation’s efforts to be carbon neutral by 2050 would rely in part on returning to nuclear power, even though his predecessor had tried to move away from atomic power.

Yoon’s comments at a summit in the United Arab Emirates, made in front of the country’s leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, served to underline Seoul’s commitment to nuclear power as it works to finish the Arabian Peninsula’s first atomic power plant. That could see South Korea in line for lucrative maintenance contracts and future projects in the UAE, which Seoul has grown closer to over recent years.

The UAE also promises to be carbon neutral by 2050 — a target that remains difficult to assess and one that the Emirates still has not fully explained how it will reach. The $20 billion Barakah nuclear power plant, Seoul’s first attempt to build atomic reactors abroad, will one day account for nearly a quarter of all of the Emirates’ power needs.

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