On an unseasonably hot October day, in a dusty field about 20 miles west of Cologne, a crowd has gathered to protest against Germany’s continued burning of lignite (also known as brown coal) to generate electricity. Families with children, barefoot Nature lovers, pensioners in hiking boots: all have come to demonstrate – and to celebrate – with live music and free vegan food. Just 24 hours earlier a court ruled that the energy company RWE AG would have to suspend its plans to cut down the Hambach Forest to expand its opencast coal mine.

It feels like a festival. By mid-afternoon around 50,000 ...


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