Climate activist turns down Siemens board role over Australian mine deal

German climate activist Luisa Neubauer has declined an offer from Siemens' chief executive Joe Kaeser to sit on a supervisory board off the firm's new energy business, following controversy over an Australian mining project.

Climate activist turns down Siemens board role over Australian mine deal

Luisa Neubauer with Greta Thunberg. Attribution: C.Suthorn / cc-by-sa-4.0 /

German climate activist and politician Luisa Neubauer rejected Kaeser’s offer for a seat on the Group’s soon-to-be-announced energy company’s supervisory board, after activists campaigned for climate action across 40 German cities as part of the Fridays For Future movement inspired and led by Greta Thunberg.

Kaeser met Neubauer during a meeting in Berlin on Friday (10 January). Neubauer has been a vocal critic of Siemens’ current workings with commodity trading business Adani. The companies have agreed on a deal to supply rail infrastructure for a new coal mine in Queensland’s Galilee Basin in Australia.

According to the Siemens chief, Neubauer has declined the offer to take on the advisory capacity for Siemens Energy.

“We at Siemens have started a long time ago to do our part to save our planet. I do invite everybody to work together to save it. I have invited the leader of the German Fridays For Future movement to join such a Sustainability Board to add the youth to the table. Sadly, she has turned down my offer to join and suggested to add an environmental expert instead. While I appreciate the dialogue, this will not do the job,” Kaeser said.

“Securing our planet for the future is not just about experts, this is mostly about leadership. We have enough scientists telling us about the problem already for quite some time – solutions need to be created by leaders solving the complexity of conflicting interests in the political and industrial world. Our doors are open to genuine efforts to work together to make us faster and better as a company helping our customers and partners to achieving carbon neutrality or at least reduce emissions drastically.”

Climate campaigners are concerned that the Adani coal mine will create 27.5 million additional tonnes of coal annually, pushing the country further away from emissions reductions required to combat global warming. The concerns are visible for Australians, as the country is being ravaged by the worst wildfires it has experienced in decades.

Despite campaigner concerns, Kaeser, announced this morning that the deal was “legally binding and enforceable fiduciary responsibility,” and that it would go ahead.

The Australian government approved the construction of the mine by Adani last year. Once completed, the mine is expected to produce 8-10 million tonnes of thermal coal a year.

In September 2015, Siemens committed to becoming a carbon-neutral company by 2030.

Matt Mace

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