The first question would be: Can Joe Kaeser and Luisa Neubauer, longtime Siemens boss and young climate activist, really get together? One of them was born in 1957 in Arnbruck, Lower Bavaria, and for years ran one of the largest companies in Europe. An industrial colossus who not only sells medical technology to hospitals and ICEs to railroads, but of course has also delivered one or the other gas turbine and has been involved in building power plants in the world for years. coal. The other, born in Hamburg in 1996, is a close companion of Greta Thunberg, co-initiator of the school strike movement Fridays for Future and calls for an exit from coal by 2030 and strict compliance with the Paris agreement. on the climate.
Is there a basis for discussion? “I think so,” Kaeser said. “Because the goal is the same. The way it should actually be the same. Should, of course, but it’s not that easy with the path.
Kaeser, who is now chairman of the supervisory board of outsourced energy technology group Siemens Energy, is very familiar with x-ray machines and computer tomographs, and that’s why he likes these analogies to medicine. Climate protectors are good at making diagnoses, but, “Nobody gets away with a diagnosis. Anyone could sign off on the diagnosis, and prevention has been missed in recent decades anyway. The real question now is, “What is the therapy?”
But is it really the case that everyone has already understood the diagnosis? You can’t be sure everyone really understands the problem, says Neubauer. Why else would a “mega-pipeline across the Baltic Sea” be built with Nord Stream-2 to transport Russian natural gas from the arctic fields to central Europe? And Siemens, too, is “completely free not to build new gas-fired power plants.” So it’s not that simple. But at least she’s happy that they “got to the part of the conflict” so quickly.
Otherwise it would be boring.
After all, this Kaeser-und-Neubauer’s turn on climate change is an experience, and the experimental arrangement looks like this: Kaeser is sitting on the stage in Munich, beige pants, white shirt, blue jacket, just over leisure excursion as business attire. Luisa Neubauer sits in front of a lighted wall with heating in Berlin. At first she said, “Good afternoon, hello.” Is this really your first long public conversation? Kaeser says: “It could be”.
The fact that the longtime Siemens boss, with a driver and a million dollar salary, and the young climate activist, are on good terms during those 45 minutes could well be interpreted as a clue of closeness. However, the two speak in very different terms. He says, “You just said,” and she says, “You insist on it.” But he often calls her Luisa, he says “Luisa and Fridays of the Future”, not “Frau Neubauer and Fridays of the Future”. She, on the other hand, refrains from calling him Joe all the time. Hi Joe No, it doesn’t go that far between Kaeser, 64, and Neubauer, 25.
In the end, they may be too far away for that, according to the clearly argued climate activist Neubauer and the rhetorically very active Kaeser. “In essence, we haven’t figured out where we are yet,” he says. The fight against climate change, the restructuring of the industry, the many jobs. “It is important that social peace is not endangered.” What about pensions, the welfare state, social peace? Market economy on the one hand, climate protection on the other? If there is one thing Neubauer does not want to allow here today, it is to open up a contrast between young and old, climate protection and prosperity. “The climate crisis” primarily affects “the weak,” she said. And “it concerns my grandmother and her friends”. Climate change affects everyone, and of course Kaeser finds it hard to disagree.
You need to know how and when the two got to know each other better. It was early 2020 when Fridays for Future protested a Siemens contract to build a large coal mine in Australia. The deal was not about the dirty coal itself, but the delivery of signaling systems for the trains that take the coal away from the mine. Kaeser then offered Neubauer a seat on a watchdog at Siemens’ energy subsidiary, but he refused. “Luisa couldn’t,” Kaeser said today, understanding. You couldn’t be a climate activist and ‘be part of the system’.
Part of the system? Now the former manager almost sounds like a critic of the system he’s been a part of for the past four decades, but maybe that’s the trick. At one point, Neubauer talks about images of the flooded areas of the past few days, of the Laschet and Söder wading through destroyed streets with tall rubber boots. “These are all people who have a government responsibility,” she said. It is “cynical”. Kaeser wouldn’t be Kaeser if he didn’t gratefully pick up on the subject and keep filming: it’s a shame that there are currently no politicians on stage. What he is trying to say is: ask politicians about their responsibilities.
In turn, Neubauer finds it hard to disagree, and the way he sees Australia’s dire image today goes very well with it all. “We should never have done the project,” he says. AU $ 18million – of course, this insane PR disaster wasn’t worth it. “We’ve tried everything, and Luisa knows it, to get out of there,” Kaeser explains. But we were just bound by contract, billions of lawsuits were threatened. Okay, so maybe stressing out with Luisa Neubauer and Fridays for Future instead. “It’s a proven way to talk to each other and not to each other,” Kaeser explains at the start of the group. And that’s something.