"The best solutions for the largest bucket wheel excavator in the world": This is the headline of an advertising publication about Autodesk's success stories. The manufacturer of CAD software prides itself on the fact that its software is used by the energy group RWE to create customized spare parts for the bucket wheel excavator 290. This could mine up to 240,000 tons of coal a day.
The excavator 290 is located in the Hambach opencast mine, on the edge of which is the Hambacher Wald, which has become a symbol of protest. The planned coal phase-out will probably preserve a remaining part of the forest, but the climate-damaging lignite incineration should continue for years to come. RWE is still planning to demolish several villages for lignite mining.
Autodesk is an environmentally conscious company
Belgian artist Jonaie Lemercier is surprised that Autodesk describes it as a successful project to supply IT technology for lignite mining. Because Lemercier uses the Autodesk software itself and assumed that it was a company that pursued ecological goals. On your website the company is environmentally conscious.
Autodesk promises to measure the environmental impact of businesses and products and set goals for itself to reduce environmental impact. Lemercier spoke to Autodesk on Twitter about the advertising brochure – a short time later it disappeared from the website. But Lemercier demands more: He wants companies like Autodesk to end cooperation with companies like RWE.
Lemercier contacted representatives from Autodesk, initially encountered apparent understanding, but promised conversations never took place. The US journalist Maddie Stone recently published on the website Drilled News a detailed portrait of Lemercier's conflict with Autodesk. Lemercier himself documented the communication and his protests on the website Autodesk.earth.
Lemercier demands that Autodesk initially exclude a list of the most climate-damaging groups from business contacts, which could be the 100 companies with the highest CO2 emissions worldwide. Loud A report by the British environmental organization Carbon Disclosure Project puts RWE in 41st place.
One can ask how relevant the struggle of a single climate activist and artist is. But Lemercier asks questions that many tech companies have recently been confronted with. IT companies like to see themselves as progressive, the Silicon Valley giants all have ambitious climate protection plans for their own businesses. But so far they are not ready for one thing: they do not want to cut their business relationships with the fossil industry.
IT companies ignore their customers' emissions in climate protection plans
Whether Amazon, Google or Microsoft – the large corporations from Silicon Valley have announced climate protection programs in recent years. But all of them also offer cloud services specifically for the oil industry, for whom data management is becoming increasingly important. The greenhouse gas emissions generated indirectly are usually not included in the calculations of our own climate footprint.
Not only IT companies are faced with this criticism. This recently became a PR disaster for the Siemens group, which on the one hand announced that it wanted to be carbon neutral by 2030, but on the other hand wants to earn money at the Australian Adani mine, one of the largest new coal mining projects in the world.
The criticism of Autodesk is directed against a small company compared to Siemens or Amazon. In times of an aggravated climate crisis with more and more visible effects, in the future such companies will also have to increasingly ask themselves what responsibility they have for the greenhouse gases they indirectly cause.