03 May 2019, 13:23
Sören Amelang

Climate protests accompany RWE’s shareholder meeting

Clean Energy Wire

Climate activists called for a swift end to coal-fired power generation at power plant operator RWE’s annual general meeting. Members of the Fridays for Future student protest movement blocked an underground station near the shareholder meeting in the western German city of Essen, according to public broadcaster ZDF. “Fridays for Future lifts a topic onto the agenda loud and clear, and thus puts it on everybody’s radar,” RWE CEO Rolf Martin Schmitz told his company’s shareholders, according to the transcript of his his speech, reports ZDF. But he also lamented that many debates neglected what was really feasible. “A competition for the most radical demand or the most sweeping ban does more damage than good,” he warned. “That scares many people, which results in resistance and defensiveness.”

RWE announced earlier this week that it had cancelled plans for new coal-fired power plants and will focus on renewables. This spring’s report from Germany’s coal commission recommended that Germany phase out coal entirely by 2038, and coal plant operators demand compensation payments from the government, which still have to be negotiated. RWE completes a planned asset swap with utility E.ON this year, which will transform the utility into “one of the world’s leading renewable energy players,” according to Schmitz.

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