German Coal Company Allowed To Clear Cut 12,000 Year Old Forest

300px-biogradska_sumaGermany has pledged to cut carbon emissions by up to 95 percent by 2050 by virtually ending the use of coal for energy. However, that will not come in time to save the spectacular Hambach Forest, an ancient woodlands in Germany that lies between the cities of Cologne and Aachen. The forest is 12,000-years-old and is irreplaceable. However, the government has given the go ahead to Germany’s second-largest electricity producer RWE to clear cut the ancient trees to extract the coal underneath.

For decades, the coal companies have chopped down the forest — destroying three-fourths of a forest that once covered 5,500 hectares. In a truly horrific decision, the RWE will now be allowed to clear cut part of the remainder of the forest. Environmentalist have chained themselves to tree and built tree houses to try to stop the destruction.

RWE bought the forest in the 1970s for use as an open-pit lignite mine. So, from the companies standpoint, the greens or the government had decades to purchase the property (though the cost would have been exceptionally high given the massive amount of coal that is believed to be under the forest). It is a shame that a compromise with mining shafts that would have preserved much of the surface (though the coal is clearly near the surface).

There will now be a final confrontation between environmentalists and the company. I do not necessarily blame the company which is simply trying to wealth maximize. I fail to see what this forest is not worth a government intervention. There are examples of market failures that require government intervention as stated by Arthur Pigou in The Economics of Welfare (1920):

“In general, industrialists are interested, not in the social, but only in the trade net product of their operations. Clearly, therefore, there is not reason to expect that self-interest will tend to bring about equality between the values of the marginal social net products [national dividend] of investment in different industries, when the values of social net product and of trade net product in those industries diverge.”

Here RWE is focused on trade net product concerns: extracting and selling coal. It is society that must account for disparities between market values and public values in places like Hambach Forest.

22 thoughts on “German Coal Company Allowed To Clear Cut 12,000 Year Old Forest

  1. Perhaps Germany’s government oversight agencies are like those in the USA. Directed by people from the industry they are supposed to regulate. Democrats and Republicans are not the only parties to be coopted by corporate interests.

    • I belive the new administration has the same level of disgust for the EPA as the rest of the American people. I look for him and whoever he appoints to start using some common sense about EPA regulations. Didn”t think the Germans were this stupid.

      • Why is that you and so many others so often assign to themselves the right to speak for all Americans? Some, many, maybe even most Americans are disgusted with the EPA. But clearly it is overreach when you claim that all Americans share this view. I for one do not. I am certain I am not alone.

  2. translated 4x 5 square miles or perhaps 3x 7 and a bit over. And the Greens had since well before 1970 to purchase it. And did not. If Germany was sincere about reducing carbon emissions by reducing the use of coal they must have a plan to replace the lost electrical production by some other means.

    Now what other means is allowed by the Greens?

    Not nuclear
    Not damns
    Not anthracite instead of bituminous
    Not producing electricity elsewhere and transporting it as clean energy through wires.
    Solar? No Immense srides but insufficient
    Wind? Huge amounts in Europe but…insufficient
    Wood? Just joking
    Got it…
    Spermaceti. for light
    Blankets for warmth

    Or how about just filter the exhausts?

    and buy the coal elsewhere?

    If Germany was sincere about their 2050 goal the problem is not insurmountable. Which jmeans

    They are insincere

    But then so is the USA which thinks a lone signature binds us to anything, without the accompanying requried vote of 100 duly elected offcials to make it legal.

    But then that loan signature is from the one who is the pinnacle of insincerity.

    Perhaps there is not anthracite left in Europe. Let’s find out…A moment please……..

    World Energiy Council https://www.worldenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/WER_2013_1_Coal.pdf

    Germany has considerable reserves of hard coal (48 million tonnes) and lignite (40,500 mil- lion tonnes), making these the country’s most important indigenous source of energy.

    Germany’s primary energy consumption amounted to 480 Mtce in 2010. Oil accounted for the largest share (33.6%), followed by coal (22.8 %), natural gas (21.8 %) and nuclear energy (10.9 %). Renewable energy reached 9.5 %.Within coal, hard coal accounted for12.1 % and lignite for 10.7 % of primary energy consumption. Germany is dependent on energy imports to a large extent, except in the case of lignite. About 77% of hard coal was imported, in comparison with 98% of oil and 87% of gas. The power generation structure is characterised by a widely diversified energy mix. In 2010, gross power output was as follows: 42.4% from coal (of which 23.7% was from lignite and 18.7 % from hard coal), 22.6% from nuclear, 13.6 % from natural gas, 16.5 % from renewable energy sources and 4.9% from other sources.

    This means that hard coal and lignite, as well as nuclear energy, are the mainstays of the German power industry.

    This also means they are within the Rhine Valley to Bavarian area and a bit more on the eastern borders a prime hard coal producer.

    Translated it means a 4 mile x 5 mile – and a bit more area does not have to be used – necessarily. or can be mined using tunnels systems instead of open pit. Given the ‘legal assistance’ of the German Government they can have their coal and their trees too.

    The cost will of course increase …but then they are a rich country are they not and did sign on to the world agreement what’s it called these days Kyoto something. or another. I could not tell if that speck of ground in question was anthracite of which Gemany has great deal or the dirty bituminous variety. But then Germany is a rich country they can afford it.

    USA in contrast has probably 100 times as much but chooses to burn dirty coal instead of the cleaner burning control and insists on sending it by train loads across country instead of converting it on site to electricity.

    All to enrich Prince Albert Bore

    Those trains go right by the locked up anthracite and once burned spread that pollutant across the entire nation. The East Coast thus enriches the nation with it’s version of a carbon emission tax or as we know it an Acid Rain producing substance.

    but then the USA ‘is a rich rich rich country. They can afford the clean up costs.

    • “Clean power supplied almost all of Germany’s power demand for the first time on Sunday, marking a milestone for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “Energiewende” policy to boost renewables while phasing out nuclear and fossil fuels.”

      https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-16/germany-just-got-almost-all-of-its-power-from-renewable-energy

      There are other answers and Germany as well as the US should take them. We cannot keep going as we are. I’m really not certain why oligarchs don’t see fit to make their money in useful ways. One can become very wealthy and powerful while still doing good in the world.

      The govt. should purchase this precious resource and give subsidies to the energy company to go green. Govt. has been giving subsidies to dirty power for decades. They can give it for the common welfare of humanity.

      We are treating this planet like a garbage pile and this action is killing us off as well as other lifeforms. We DO NOT have to do this. We are making this choice. We can make better choices. Only a person who has been completely detached from nature and other people would think cutting these trees is a good idea. It’s so sad.

  3. […] Germany has pledged to cut carbon emissions by up to 95 percent by 2050 by virtually ending the use of coal for energy. However, that will not come in time to save the spectacular Hambach Forest, an ancient woodlands in Germany that lies between the cities of Cologne and Aachen. The forest is 12,000-years-old and is irreplaceable. However, the government has given the go ahead to Germany’s second-largest electricity producer RWE to clear cut the ancient trees to extract the coal underneath…(more) […]

  4. First they came for the forests. And I did not say anything because I was not a tree.

    Anyone know the relevance or the reference of the above two sentences?

    • Why the hell would they cut down 1200 year old trees???? Are they in need of wood or what?
      What harm could it do to let them stay and purify the air? WOW!! Off th charts stupid.

  5. This is tragic. I remember living through the results of acid rain the 1980s which decimated so many forests. Yet another reason to get rid of Mama Merkel IMO.

  6. There is a lot of underground mining in Germany which would mean they could work around most of the trees. I am not clear as to the type of mining they are planning on doing.

  7. Funny how some people are willing to ascribe to religious dogma because it might be true/accurate, but are unwilling to give up fossil fuel because climate change science might be true/accurate.

        • dogfightwithdogma – that the climate always changes over time is a given. That it is man-made is not. I did see that California is going after cow farts. Not sure how they are going to stop them, but maybe I should start investing in corks.

  8. It’s a race to deplete and monetize every remaining resource so some will reap the last profits as the planet dies. People had every chance to displace their corporate masters, control their population and stop fouling their nest–but no–it’s as if all these short term thinkers welcome the apocalypse (some do)….so destructive and heartless are we–I can’t wait for it either. Humans won’t stop until everything is as ugly as their hearts.

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