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Climate protestors demonstrate in front of Siemens headquarters in Munich, January 2019.

Siemens Considers Dropping Coal Contract after Protests

Jan. 10, 2020
With large-scale bush fires in Australia gaining worldwide attention, pressure on Siemens intensified in recent weeks.

Siemens AG is considering the future of a controversial contract to supply signaling systems to a new Australian coal mine under pressure from environmental activists, who staged German-wide protests against the company on Jan. 10.

CEO Joe Kaeser met with Fridays for Future activist Luisa Neubauer in Munich, and the company plans to announce a decision by Jan. 13.

Climate protesters, inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, have been targeting Siemens for months. Their goal was to prod the icon of German industry into joining a list of 60 companies that have pledged not to work with Adani Power Ltd. on the planned Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, Australia.

With large-scale bush fires in Australia gaining worldwide attention, pressure on Siemens intensified in recent weeks, prompting CEO Kaeser to say on  Twitter that he is taking the concerns “seriously” and would review the contract.

“I just can’t understand how people who know what’s happening in the world and know what Australia looks like right now, how they could still do this,” Matylda Bobnis, another Friday’s for Future activist, said as more than 100 fellow demonstrators rallied outside Siemens’s headquarters in Munich -- one of 40 protests around Germany.

The Carmichael mine was approved by the Queensland state government in June after years of struggles. Siemens won the contract to supply rail signaling systems in December, but protesters want the company to renege on the agreement.

“We want to show Siemens that we’re not going to stand by and let them just do this,” said Bobnis. “The company brags about being climate neutral by 2030, while on the other hand they’re evaluating such an environmentally damaging deal.”

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