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Activists outraged as Siemens backs Australian coal project

January 13, 2020

The German engineering firm has reaffirmed plans to support the controversial Adani coal mine project. Siemens has come under fire for the project's climate implications, with bushfires currently raging across Australia.

A protester holds a sign that reads #StopAdani
Image: picture alliance/dpa/C. Charisius

Protesters across Germany on Monday called on Siemens to reverse their decision to remain involved in a a controversial coal mining project in Australia.

At Siemens headquarters in Munich, about a hundred protesters staged a "die-in" to highlight the environmental cost of the use of coal.

The German engineering conglomerate has a contract worth roughly €18 million ($20 million), which requires Siemens to supply rail infrastructure for the Carmichael mine in Queensland, near the Great Barrier Reef.

Massive fires have scorched an area the size of Ireland across Australia, making it one of the most disastrous events in the country in living memory. Scientists have blamed climate change for the fires' devastating intensity.

Fridays for Future Protest against Siemens-Adani Project
Activists against the Siemens-Adani project protested outside the German conglomerate offices on FridayImage: picture-alliance/Zuma/S. Babbar

'Contractual obligations'

But on Sunday, Siemens' CEO Joe Kaeser tweeted: "We have just finished our special meeting.... We have evaluated all the options and have concluded that we must fulfill our contractual obligations."

Kaeser did promise, though, that the company would better "manage in the future the questions of protecting the environment."

The proposed Carmichael mine, owned by India's Adani group, has long sparked controversy. Opposition to the multibillion-euro enterprise has worsened in the wake of Australia's recent devastating bushfires.

'Inexcusable' project

German climate activist Luisa Neubauer , of Fridays for Future, has called the decision by Siemens an "inexcusable mistake."

She joined Swedish activist Greta Thunberg in her condemnation of the German company, telling DPA news agency: "We asked Kaeser to do everything possible to prevent the Adani mine," referring to a meeting with the Siemens boss last week. "Instead, he will now profit from this disaster project."

On Friday, Kaeser offered Neubauer a seat on the supervisory board at Siemens Energy, a new conventional and renewable energy company, but she turned it down.

ls, jsi/ng (dpa, AFP)

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