RWE prepares clearing of Hambach Forest for coal mining despite calls for moratorium – report
German energy company RWE has rejected calls for a moratorium on forest clearing as part of lignite mining during its negotiations with the country’s coal exit commission, and said it would continue mining operations at the controversial Hambach mine, the Berliner Zeitung reports. According to the article, RWE head Rolf Martin Schmitz told the coal exit commission’s leaders in a letter that the company would continue clearing Hambach Forest by October in order to keep its nearby power plants in operation. Schmitz said the company was not able to comply with the request of environmental organisations to pause mining activities until the commission has reached the end of its deliberations, scheduled for December. Hambach Forest, near Cologne, has become a symbolic place for many climate activists from across Europe, some of whom have been living in the forest for years to prevent the last old trees from being felled.
Environmental organisation WWF Germany has sharply criticised RWE’s announcement, saying “no precedents should be created while the negotiations are still ongoing.” WWF climate policy spokesman Michael Schäfer said that a viable compromise to be found by the coal exit commission was “in the interest of the entire society,” and the actions of a single company must not lead to an escalation that could prevent the commission from finding a consensus.