efe-epaImmerath, Germany

Greenpeace activists on Monday surrounded and climbed a church in the west of Germany to protest its demolition ahead of the expansion of a coal mine, as seen in images by an epa photojournalist on the ground.

The entire village of Immerath, including its 19th-century church, is set to be razed so that the North Rhine-Westphalia-based energy company RWE can expand a nearby brown coal mine, a move highly contested by Greenpeace.

Some 40 environmental activists were at the church on Monday, bearing banners reading, "Those who destroy culture also destroy humans #endcoal," and trying to block the demolition efforts.

Epa images showed that several protesters managed to climb the church's facade and hang a banner from its large, rose window while a helicopter hovered overhead.

"It is clear that the climate must be protected and a coal exit is unavoidable," said Anike Peters, an energy expert at Greenpeace. "That's why we call for a stop to the demolition work, until the upcoming federal government has decided on the future German energy policy," she added.

The organization denounced that RWE were working to expand the mining of lignite, also known as brown coal, while coalition talks in Berlin were focused on reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the country by 40 percent in the next few years.