News Digest Item
21 Sep 2018

Saving Hambach Forest would cost billions of euros – RWE head

ZDF

Not cutting down the embattled Hambach Forest would cost four to five billion euros, Rolf Martin Schmitz, head of energy company RWE, which wants to clear the forest to expand a nearby lignite mine, said  in the political talk show Maybrit Illner on public TV station ZDF. “The assumption that the forest can be saved is an illusion,” said Schmitz. It had to go because the land was needed to stabilise the embankments at the edge of the pit mine. If the forest remained standing, RWE would have to collect “huge amounts” of soil from other areas at great cost, said Schmitz. The Hambach Forest is “really just a symbol” and “this piece of forest cannot be saved.” German economy minister Peter Altmaier pointed out that the government had decided to cut coal-fired power generation by about 50 percent by 2030, and emphasised that it was still needed to secure power supply, especially in light of the nuclear exit. Green member of the Bundestag Anton Hofreiter replied that in the failed 2017 coalition negotiations between the CDU/CSU, FDP and Green Party, Altmaier had said the immediate shutdown of 7 gigawatt lignite capacity is possible. “Why was it possible back then, and now that we are not part of the government it’s technically not possible?,” Hofreiter asked.

Watch the show in German here.

For background, read the CLEW article Germany’s coal commission insists no decision yet on exit date and the coal commission watch.

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