Making the Hambach Forest symbol of climate action could backfire
Activists’ elevation of the Hambach Forest, which energy company RWE wants to cut down to expand one of its lignite mines, to a symbol of climate protection could turn out to be costly, Daniel Wetzel argues in a long article for Die Welt on the status of Germany’s coal exit debate. Wetzel says RWE could use the situation as a “joker” in the coal exit negotiations: “If RWE gives up plans to cut down the forest […], it could demand far-reaching compensation elsewhere,” he writes.
The Hambach Forest has become a symbol for climate activists in Germany and beyond, highlighting diverging opinions on how the country’s energy transition should be managed. Anti-coal activists had occupied the forest for years before a court ruling in October 2018 provisionally halted plans to it down. Activists and observers said the decision might help end coal-fired power production in the country, a process currently being debated by the coal exit commission, which the government launched last year.