Climate protesters storm open-pit mine in western Germany

Hundreds of environmental activists broke through a police cordon to enter one of Germany's biggest lignite coal mines Saturday.

The protesters were determined to draw attention to the urgency of climate change after a plan to make the European Union carbon neutral by 2050 failed to find agreement.

Police ordered the activists to leave the vast, open-pit Garzweiler mine in western Germany, citing life-threatening dangers.

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Numerous environmental activists walk on a roadway on the site of the Garzweiler open-cast mine in Garzweiler, Germany, Saturday, June 22, 2019. The protests for more climate protection in the Rhineland continue. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)
Numerous environmental activists walk on a roadway on the site of the Garzweiler open-cast mine in Garzweiler, Germany, Saturday, June 22, 2019. The protests for more climate protection in the Rhineland continue. (David Young/dpa via AP)
Numerous environmental activists walk to the site of the Garzweiler open-cast mine in Garzweiler, Germany, Saturday, June 22, 2019. The protests for more climate protection in the Rhineland continue. ( David Young/dpa via AP)
Numerous environmental activists walk on a roadway on the site of the Garzweiler open-cast mine in Garzweiler, Germany, Saturday, June 22, 2019. The protests for more climate protection in the Rhineland continue. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)
Numerous environmental activists walk on a roadway on the site of the Garzweiler open-cast mine in Garzweiler, Germany, Saturday, June 22, 2019. The protests for more climate protection in the Rhineland continue. (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)
Numerous environmental activists block the tracks of the coal transport railway in Rommerskirchen, Germany, Saturday, June 22, 2019. The protests for more climate protection in the Rhineland continue. Many participants are expected for protests and actions at the Garzweiler opencast mine. Photo by: (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)
Numerous environmental activists block the tracks of the coal transport railway in Rommerskirchen, Germany, Saturday, June 22, 2019. The protests for more climate protection in the Rhineland continue. Many participants are expected for protests and actions at the Garzweiler opencast mine. Photo by: (Marcel Kusch/dpa via AP)
Climate activists occupy railtracks in Neurath clost to the Garzweiler brown coal mine, western Germany, on June 23, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by - / DPA / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Climate activists occupy railtracks in Neurath clost to the Garzweiler brown coal mine, western Germany, on June 23, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by - / DPA / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
HOCHNEUKIRCH, GERMANY - JUNE 22: Anti-coal activists march to the Garzweiler open-pit coal mine in an attempt to disrupt operation of the mine on June 22, 2019 in Hochneukirch, Germany. Thousands of activists are participating in the event, which has been organized by the group "Ende Gelände", to demand a faster phasing-out of coal for energy production in Germany. Germany, with large open-pit mines in the Rhineland region and in eastern Germany, is still heavily dependent on coal, despite strong investments in renewable energy sources. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
Climate activists sit on the ground after entering the Garzweiler brown coal mine in Garzweiler, western Germany, on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to occupy the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers arrest climate activists after they entered the Garzweiler brown coal mine in Garzweiler, western Germany, on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to occupy the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Climate activists sit on the ground after entering the Garzweiler brown coal mine in Garzweiler, western Germany, on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to occupy the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Climate activists sit on the ground after entering the Garzweiler brown coal mine in Garzweiler, western Germany, on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to occupy the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Climate activists sit on the ground after entering the Garzweiler brown coal mine in Garzweiler, western Germany, on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to occupy the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Climate activists sit on the ground after entering the Garzweiler brown coal mine in Garzweiler, western Germany, on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to occupy the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Climate activists sit on the ground after entering the Garzweiler brown coal mine in Garzweiler, western Germany, on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to occupy the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Police officers arrest climate activists after they entered the Garzweiler brown coal mine in Garzweiler, western Germany, on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to occupy the Garzweiler open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by INA FASSBENDER / AFP) (Photo credit should read INA FASSBENDER/AFP/Getty Images)
Climate activists block the rail of the Hambach train leading to the Hambach lignite opencast mine of German energy giant RWE on June 22, 2019, during a weekend of massive protests in a growing "climate civil disobedience" movement. - Anti-coal activists try to block open-cast lignite mine in a protest to demand action against global warming, now one of the hottest issues on the European political agenda. (Photo by Henning Kaiser / DPA / AFP) / Germany OUT (Photo credit should read HENNING KAISER/AFP/Getty Images)
HOCHNEUKIRCH, GERMANY - JUNE 22: Anti-coal activists block the entrance to the Garzweiler open-pit coal mine in an attempt to disrupt operation of the mine on June 22, 2019 in Hochneukirch, Germany. Thousands of activists are participating in the event, which has been organized by the group "Ende Gelände", to demand a faster phasing-out of coal for energy production in Germany. Germany, with large open-pit mines in the Rhineland region and in eastern Germany, is still heavily dependent on coal, despite strong investments in renewable energy sources. (Photo by Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images)
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German news agency dpa reported that some officers were hurt.

The occupation was among several demonstrations near the mine and adjacent power plants that attracted thousands of people to the village of Hochneukirch and surrounding Rhineland areas.

Earlier Saturday, dozens of protesters temporarily blocked railway tracks used to transport coal.

The vast majority of rallies and protests remained peaceful.

The mine has been a focus of environmental protests in recent years because the operator, German utility company RWE, planned to cut down a forest to enlarge it.

"It's important to increase the pressure on the government," protester Selma Schubert said.

"The government doesn't do enough against climate change."

Germany Climate Protest
Environmental activists block the tracks of the coal transport railway in Rommerskirchen (Marcel Kusch/dpa/AP)

Those taking part in the protests held banners calling for climate protection and sang songs as they marched.

According to German environmental group Bund, more than 8,000 people took part.

Following months of climate protests by students and a sharp rise in the polls for Germany's Green party, Chancellor Angela Merkel recently threw her weight behind the goal of making Germany climate neutral by 2050.

That would mean the country's economy no longer would add greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

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