Siemens under green lobby pressure over Australian coal mine
German engineering giant Siemens will decide by Monday on its involvement in the controversial Carmichael coal mine being built in Australia by India’s Adani, chief executive Joe Kaeser said on Friday.
“While we understand why people focus on this one project, we follow a broader approach in order to fight climate change and supply people around the world with affordable and reliable electricity,” Siemens said in a statement announcing the deal on Dec. 11.
The firm, however, yielded to pressure, delaying a final decision on the 20 million euros ($22m) contract to provide a rail signalling system for the project to next week.
Speaking after meeting climate activist Luisa Neubauer in Berlin, Kaeser told journalists he had offered her a seat on the supervisory board of the group’s new Siemens Energy division, Reuters reported.
Neubauer, one of the main organizers of the Fridays for Future school strike climate movement in Germany, did not join the news conference.
Organized groups have called for demonstrations at Siemens sites across Germany on Friday, arguing that while Siemens “promises in Germany to take responsibility for the climate and become carbon-neutral by 2030, [it supports] a backward-looking project in Australia, as well as the destruction of our planet and our future.”
The Carmichael mine, expected to produce 8-10 million tonnes of thermal coal a year, was approved by the state government in June 2019 after a near decade-long struggle with regulators and environmental protesters.
It has battled a string of lawsuits from environmental groups and scientists, who argue it will contribute to global warming and damage Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
According to official estimations, Carmichael will contribute $2.97 billion each year to Queensland’s economy and will create 1,500 direct and 6,750 indirect jobs during ramp up and construction.
Thermal coal is one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. If burnt, output from Carmichael would release 700m tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year for more than 50 years.
Another six coal projects in the Galilee are awaiting approval and are seen following Carmichael if Adani builds infrastructure to connect it to the state’s rail network.
Australia, the world’s biggest exporter of coal, continues to be engulfed in flames with the worst wildfires seen in decades and large swathes of the country devastated.
Climate scientists and environmentalist have pointed to higher weather patterns and emissions as factors making natural disasters go from bad to worse.