Nation promotes clean energy while miners keep digging; a village awaits its demolition
PÖDELWITZ, Germany—On the surface, this medieval idyll of timber-framed houses resembles most villages dotting the landscape of this rural, thinly populated region of Eastern Germany.
But empty streets, overgrown lawns and silence reveal a ghost town. Three years ago, most of the village’s 140 residents agreed to leave, accepting an offer from local mining company Mibrag mbH of new homes, moving costs and an additional €75,000 ($86,000).
The company, whose open-pit mine has swallowed up much of Pödelwitz’s surroundings, wants to dig up the hamlet so it can continue excavating brown coal, a cheap, plentiful and highly polluting fossil fuel. Unless, that is, Pödelwitz’s 27 remaining residents have their way.
“We don’t want their money. We just want to be able to live here,” said André Kremkow, a locksmith leading a campaign to spare the village and, more broadly, put an end to coal mining in Germany. Mibrag declined to comment on its plans and local resistance.
This and similar disputes around the country have drawn attention to a curious split: Though Germany has championed the use of clean energy, several German brown-coal mines are expanding, which requires government permission. And though Germany’s greenhouse-gas emissions began trending downward in 1990, emissions have climbed since 2015.
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