12 February 2020
At its AGM last year, while under fire from major investors like Union Investment and Blackrock, (now former) Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser tried to justify its reputation-destroying work for the Adani Carmichael coal project by saying that Siemens had:
“secured the right to pull out of the contract if our customer violates the very stringent environmental obligations.”
Putting aside that the project is a massive new thermal coal mine being constructed in the midst of the climate crisis (which for an ethical company should be enough of a reason to refuse to participate), Adani has now breached its environmental conditions four times, and is under investigation for further breaches after evidence emerged last week of significant erosion and waterway pollution at sites along its Carmichael rail network corridor. Siemens Mobility, which is working on the rail signalling infrastructure for the climate-wrecking coal project, has told Market Forces that it will continue its work for Adani despite these breaches.
After Adani was fined for the third and fourth breaches in December 2020, Market Forces contacted Siemens, pointing out the breaches and asking if Siemens would apply its right to terminate the contract. Siemens replied that Adani’s breaches were “procedural” and so it would not take action. In follow-up correspondence, Siemens Mobility refused to clarify what its criteria was for determining if an environmental condition breach was grounds for terminating its contract with Adani, and it also refused to answer questions regarding how it gathered information on the breaches (i.e. if all it did was ask Adani about them, or if it did its own investigation).
Siemens’ inaction on Adani’s serial environmental breaches means it is failing to win back the credibility it lost when it agreed to take on Adani Carmichael as a client. Securing the right to terminate a contract if the client “violates…environmental obligations” may look good on paper, but it is pure greenwashing if the client goes ahead and violates those obligations and Siemens does nothing.
If Siemens Mobility won’t act after four breaches and evidence of potentially more, it needs to answer the following questions:
- What criteria does Siemens apply to determine whether a breach of environmental conditions is grounds for contract termination? Does it ever intend to use this contractual right or has it only ever been hollow public relations?
- What will Siemens do if the latest erosion and waterway pollution incidents at Carmichael Rail Network sites are found to be breaches of environmental conditions?
Siemens social media feeds, including those of its new CEO Roland Busch and the Siemens Mobility CEO Michael Peter, are full of self-promotion that focus on climate-friendly projects. However, all of this brand building is meaningless while Siemens continues to help Adani set off one of the biggest carbon bombs on the planet, fueling bushfires, storms and heatwaves and undermining the goals of the Paris agreement on climate change.