German state says RWE utility won’t touch Hambach forest until 2020

German utility RWE has given assurances it will not touch a forest it had hoped to clear for lignite mining until late 2020, the premier of North Rhine-Westphalia state said on Wednesday. The statement comes amid a debate about Germany’s planned exit from coal. “This means that there will not be any felling of trees until the autumn of 2020,” said Armin Laschet in the state parliament in Duesseldorf. A government-appointed commission said last month Germany should shut down all of its coal-fired power plants by 2038 at the latest, Reuters said. The Hambach forest has become a symbol of the anti-coal protest. Preserving Hambach long-term will be subject to negotiations between RWE and the government over how to handle the national coal withdrawal plan, according to Laschet.