7,500 people from 27 countries joined hands in an 8 kilometre human chain across the German-Polish border. They protested against a project of opencast brown coal mining that could entail communities’ resettlement in both countries and undermine the drive to mitigate climate change.

The chain linked the villages of Kerkwitz in Germany, and Grabice in Poland, over the Neisse river, on Saturday 23 August. The 3,000 residents of the two villages fear relocation as a result of investments by a group of energy companies to increase the number of brown coal (lignite) mines in the area. Moreover, the opencast mining techniques involve tearing up large stretches of land, making a lot of dust and noise. Known as a cheap fuel, lignite is also one of the dirtiest, due to its high moisture content.

Watch a video of the human chain here: 

Coal has an important share in the energy mix of both Germany (45%) and Poland (90%). The situation has been worsening in Germany, particularly since the nuclear phase-out started. As nuclear plants shut-down and power costs keep rising (three times the US prices), electricity producers turn to the cheapest (and dirtiest) fossil fuel available – lignite.

Read more on the German utilities’ return to lignite here.