Essen, Germany – Sixty Greenpeace activists protested peacefully inside and outside the headquarters of Europe’s biggest corporate CO2-emitter, RWE, today calling for the German energy giant to immediately suspend its coal mining operations.

Banners reading “RWE: Stop destroying the climate. End coal now!” were hung in RWE’s foyer and on an accommodation container in the forecourt while the company’s Chief Executive Officer, Rolf Martin Schmitz, attended an investor meeting at another location in the city to present a “new RWE”.

“In the face of a global climate emergency we can’t afford to be mining more fossil fuels. RWE needs to suspend its climate-destroying coal mining now. Presenting plans to acquire existing wind farms while failing to lower its massive carbon footprint is plain greenwash,” said Greenpeace Germany climate expert Karsten Smid.

With annual emissions of 118 million tonnes of CO2 (2018), RWE is Europe’s worst corporate climate offender. Greenpeace Germany is calling for Schmitz to sign a moratorium preventing further coal mining by the company while the German government’s coal phase out plan is being fixed. In the Rhineland, ongoing mining of lignite, the dirtiest form of coal, also threatens villages that are situated above lignite deposits.

“RWE is essentially ignoring the government-initiated commission for coal phase-out and is instead driving excavators closer and closer to the iconic Hambach Forest, putting its water supply at risk and going against the German people who are demanding protection of Hambach forest and threatened villages,” added Smid.

Greenpeace Germany is calling on Schmitz to pull back RWE’s lignite excavators from the edge of Hambach forest. A recent survey published by Greenpeace Germany showed that a clear majority of Germans want RWE to halt further destruction of the Hambach Forest and villages by the open-pit mines.[1]

Protests against coal have been steadily increasing in Germany and Europe. Last October 50,000 people demonstrated near the Hambach forest against RWE’s plans to cut the ancient trees down. For months, tens of thousands of students are marching every week calling for more climate action and a rapid coal phase-out. Later this week thousands of people are expected at anti-coal-protests in the Rhineland mining area.

“More and more people are demanding action to tackle the climate emergency that companies such as RWE have got us into. There’s only one thing they want to hear from RWE: When will these dirty coal plants be switched off?” added Smid.


Photo and video:

Outside RWE headquarters:  

Aerial shots:

Inside RWE headquarters:


[1] Hambach survey by Greenpeace Germany:

[2] More information on protests planned this week:


Karsten Smid, Greenpeace Germany climate expert: +49 (0) 0171–8780821,

Tina Loeffelbein, Greenpeace Germany press officer: +49 (0)151–16720915,

Greenpeace Germany Press desk: +49 (0) 40-30618-340, Video: +49 (0) 160–92121259. Photo: +49 (0) 174–1313323