Siemens: Coal mine triggers climate debate and job offer

Climate activist Luisa Neubauer does not want to be offered the seat on the supervisory board of the future company Siemens Energy. However, she made Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser a proposal to give the position to a scientist, which Kaeser in turn refused.

The background to the dialogue between the two is the delivery of a train signal system for a controversial coal mine in Australia. After criticism from climate protectors, Siemens is reviewing this investment and plans to announce on Monday whether it will stick to it.

The Adani Group plans to build one of the largest coal mines in the world in Australia, which is to extract up to 60 million tons of coal per year from five underground mines and six open-cast mines. The project has been fought by environmentalists for years.

Kaeser had offered Neubauer a seat on a supervisory board of Siemens Energy during a discussion about the project on Friday. Neubauer can decide for himself whether it is the supervisory board or another body, he said. Siemens plans to spin off its energy business as Siemens Energy in the spring and is expected to go public in September.

"I will not be able to personally accept the offer, but I asked Siemens to forward the offer to a representative of the Scientists for Future," said Neubauer of the German Press Agency. Scientists for Future are scientists from various disciplines who support the climate protection movement Fridays for Future.

Kaeser regretted Neubauer's decision on Sunday, but also respected it. He did not want to give the job to an expert. Neubauer's suggestion to relinquish this seat to an expert is "well-intentioned," said Kaeser on Sunday. "But we already have enough experts and scientists."

"The solution to our environmental problems needs leaders who understand and resolve conflicting systems together," he added. There were enough experts at the climate summit in Madrid, "but far too little of this leadership. The result speaks for itself".

Neubauer had said about her decision that she knew the stock corporation law. "With the post, I would be committed to the interests of the company and would then no longer be able to comment independently on Siemens. That is not compatible with my role as a climate activist." She is committed to the Paris Agreement and the 1.5 degree target to limit global warming. "Taking Joe Kaeser as an example, you can see these days that this independent role is urgently needed."

Kaeser said that Neubauer could have contributed to the solution of the climate problem on the supervisory board "and also got an insight into complex entrepreneurial relationships". Siemens also has the goal of combating climate change. "My door is still open," said Kaeser, referring to the discussion with Neubauer.

In addition to climate protection, the criticism of the project in Australia also concerns the consumption of water, the destruction of habitats and the transportation of coal over the Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world.

"I can confirm that Joe Kaeser knows about the disastrous consequences of coal mining from the Adani Mine," said the 23-year-old. He knew that in the worst case scenario, coal emissions from the mine jeopardized the goal of limiting global warming to two degrees and that the Adani mine had a direct environmental impact.

"He admitted in the conversation that it was a mistake to sign the contract with Adani," said Neubauer. "A CEO like Kaeser does not make the second mistake and holds on to such a catastrophic trade – but revises the mistake."

Kaeser said on Friday that the decision was not an easy one. There are different interests – from shareholders, customers and also society. He was also critical of his own company: "We see that we also understand indirect participations in critical projects better and have to recognize them at an early stage." The topic had recently become particularly explosive due to the huge bush fires in Australia.

Siemens has a key role in the Adani project, said Neubauer. Two companies that could also be considered for the order had already canceled. "Regardless of this, it is up to Siemens to prove that they are serious about their commitment to climate protection," she emphasized.


. (tagsToTranslate) Adani Group (t) Joe Kaeser (t) Climate Protection (t) Coal Mine (t) Coal Power (t) Luisa Neubauer (t) Siemens (t) Siemens Energy