Stop of deforestation in Hambach forest could cost jobs

RWE fears job cuts

For months now, the clearing of the Hambach forest has been under discussion. A few weeks ago, the Münster Higher Administrative Court imposed a ban on deforestation. In an interview with Rheinische Post, CEO Rolf Martin Schmitz now says that jobs may be lost. The reason: RWE wants to produce less coal because of the logging ban. This could lead to job losses: “How many jobs we will actually have to cut in the end is still open. As soon as we have an overview, we will talk to the unions and our works councils,” says Schmitz.

4,600 jobs connected to Hambach opencast mine

From 2019, 10 to 15 million tons less brown coal will be produced annually. The current production volume in Hambach is about 40 million tons of brown coal.

Currently, 4,600 people work at the Hambach open-cast mine – 1,300 of them in mining and 1,500 in refining lignite. How many layoffs could be made is still unclear. Schmitz is optimistic that he will find another solution: “But so far RWE has still succeeded in avoiding redundancies for operational reasons and finding socially acceptable solutions. This is a good tradition at RWE.”

Hambacher Forest still open to the public

The future of lignite remains open. RWE is not expecting a court decision before the end of 2020. The company will incur additional annual costs in the low three-digit million range starting next year. In an interview with the FAZ, Schmitz quoted figures of 100 to 200 million euros per year.

The Hambach forest is currently open to the public. Although the forest belongs to RWE, it is not a company site. After the forest had been cleared, the energy supplier closed off the forest with a ditch and ropes. After the court decision, environmental activists returned to the forest and started building new tree houses.