RWE head Schmitz vows to “fight on” for clearing of Hambach Forest
In two separate interviews, the CEO of energy company RWE, Rolf Martin Schmitz, has vowed to continue contending for the clearing of the embattled Hambach Forest, which a court ordered to halt on 5 October. In an interview with the Rheinische Post, Schmitz called the court’s decision “a blow to the Rhenish coal mining area” that threatened many jobs, and said that “the fight will go on” to put an end to the anti-coal protesters’ activities there.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Schmitz said the court decision to halt the forest’s clearing “completely surprised” his company, adding that he is confident that RWE will eventually prevail in court and be allowed to expand its coal mine. “The Hambach Forest has to go, one way or another,” Schmitz said. He argued the Hambach mine would have to completely cease operations if RWE does not fell the trees before the 2021-2022 season, and that it would have to reduce the amount of coal mined there by five million tonnes per year even if RWE resumes full operation due to static safety considerations at the mine. The energy manager said the final date for Germany’s coal exit was merely “a symbol” and the true challenge would be to quickly bring up the share of renewables in the power mix. “We cannot phase out [coal] before that,” he said.
See the CLEW article Court’s halt to forest clearing fans talk of easier German coal exit for background.