Siemens Pledges To Complete Australian Coal Project Despite Climate Protests

A deal that it had entered into for developing a huge coal mine in Australia will be completed by it, said the German engineering giant Siemens, even as it faced protests on the issue by climate activists.

The open cast mine under scrutiny is owned by India’s Adani group and is located in Queensland. It is slated to become operational by next year.

“We should have been wiser about this project”, but “we need to be a supplier who sticks to its commitments”, said Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser.

Activists from the environment group Extinction Rebellion have staged protests outside of Siemens headquarter in Munich in recent days. Additionally, environmentalists in Australia have also protested and shown their dissent over the Carmichael mine project because they have argued that the project would be very damaging for the global environment because it will be generating more fossil fuel to burn which will ultimately add on to the carbon emissions of the world leading to global warming.

The coal mine however is set to become one of the biggest coal mines of the world with a planned annual output of up to 60m tones.

However environmentalists argue that their fears of dangerous consequences due to global warming because of burning of fossil fuel are not unfounded as they point to the devastating intensity of the bushfires ravaging Australia currently aided by an exceptionally hot summer and heat wave.  They argue that global warming will result in such conditions becoming all too common in the near future if the world remains reliant on coal and other fossil fuels for meeting its energy needs.

Additionally, environmentalists are also very concerned about the Great Barrier Reef off the Queensland coast – a home for precious and unique coral reefs, many of which have been already affected and killed by pollution and coral-eating starfish.

Coal ships sail from Queensland to China, India and other Asian markets.

Concerns about the destruction of coral reefs being sped up because of rising sea temperatures are also being expressed for quite some time now.

Australia exports the second biggest haul of thermal coal in the world every year , preceded only by Indonesia.

However those in Australia who support the Carmichael mine project say that the completion of the project will help several rural communities of Queensland to get much needed jobs.

Siemens has a contract worth €18m to supply railway signalling equipment for the mine.

An appeal to Siemens review the contract has been made by teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg. Continuous demonstrations against the company are also being planned by and Fridays for Future activists.

Siemens “fundamentally shares the goal of making fossil fuels redundant to our economies over time”, Kaeser said in a statement released on Sunday.

But he said “there is practically no legally and economically responsible way to unwind the contract” with Adani.

He however said that in the future, Siemens could pull out “if our customer violates the very stringent environmental obligations”. Siemens would set up “an effective Sustainability Board to better manage environmental care in the future”, he added.

(Adapted from BBC.com)

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