Munich — Siemens says it intends to honour a controversial contract to supply signalling systems to an Australian coal mine, defying the demands of activists who said they will continue protests in Germany.
The automation company will establish a sustainability committee that will have the power to stop or escalate projects, but the company will ultimately continue with the Adani contract, CEO Joe Kaeser said.
“I do realise most of you would have hoped for more,” Kaeser said in a statement. “While I do have a lot of empathy for environmental matters, I do need to balance different interests of different stakeholders.”
Fridays for Future activists, including Greta Thunberg, put pressure on Siemens to renounce the contract and not work with Adani Power on the planned Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.
“Siemens’s announcement that it will continue working on Adani’s coal mine while bushfires rage in Australia is nothing short of shameful,” environmental lobby group Australian Conservation Foundation said. “The company has shown its true colours with this decision. It has a climate-change policy, but it is hollow and empty.”
Kaeser had met German activist Luisa Neubauer on Friday, and in private talks offered the 23-year-old a seat on the supervisory board of Siemens Energy, which she turned down. Siemens Energy creates gas turbines and wind turbines, while the Adani contract will be supplied by Siemens Mobility, a different division.
Protesters had also camped out at Siemens locations, including a 24-hour demonstration in front of the company’s headquarters in Munich.
“I urge you not to be intimidated by the noisy anti-coal minority,” Australian resources minister Matt Canavan said in a December 18 letter to Kaeser.
“If the protesters achieve their goals of ending coal mining by bullying companies into submission, the result would be millions more people without a home, without access to electricity and without as much hope as they otherwise could have,” Canavan said.