For industry, climate policy is a delicate balancing act

“DOES ANYONE here speak English and want to talk to a journalist” yells Ulrich Kindermann, as he wheels his bicycle through the 12,000-year-old Hambach Forest in north-west Germany. He appears to be shouting up to the treetops. Strangely, they answer back. “Maybe”, comes a cry from Maximilian in his tree house 20 metres up an oak tree. He rappels down, looking, with his curly hair and bright eyes, for all the world like Frodo Baggins. Another member of the fellowship squats by a stove at the foot of a tree. “It’s a strange picture. From up there, you can see life all around you,” she says, pointing at the tree house. “On the other side is Mordor.”

What she calls Mordor is, in fact, the biggest brown-coal, or lignite, mine run by RWE, Germany’s largest power generator and the biggest direct producer of carbon-dioxide emissions in Europe. Lignite is a cheap source of electricity, but one of the dirtiest of fuels. Germany is the...



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