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ENVIRONMENT

‘Germany rocks’: Elon Musk makes first visit to Berlin Tesla construction site

Tesla founder Elon Musk paid his first visit to the new Giga factory on Thursday, praising the site and Deutschland.

'Germany rocks': Elon Musk makes first visit to Berlin Tesla construction site
Elon Musk signing autographs at the new factory site. Photo: DPA

The billionaire technology entrepreneur signed autographs and joked around as he visited the Tesla gigafactory in Grünheide, Brandenburg, just outside Berlin.

“We want to make this a real fun place to work,” he said, adding that construction at the site near the A10 was moving very quickly. 

“You can see how fast the progress is,” Musk added. The tech expert said he wanted to produce “cool cars” there and said it would become “the most important car factory in the world”.

READ ALSO: Tesla founder Elon Musk reveals new Giga Berlin factory design

Musk also joked with journalists, referring to a Twitter post from earlier this year where he brought up the idea of building a club at the factory.

“When do we get the rave cave here? It's going to be great,” said Musk. He also praised the new location. “Germany rocks,” he said.

Musk later tweeted to thank the Giga Berlin team for their “excellent work”

In response to a question from a reporter, Musk said on his next visit to Germany, he could imagine bringing his son, named “X Æ A-Xii”, with him.

“Maybe I'll come back in a few months and bring him with me,” he said.  Musk laughed when the name of his son was mentioned in the question. “Oh, you mean my child? That sounds like a password.” Musk and his partner, the musician Grimes, became parents in May.

From summer 2021, around 500,000 electric cars per year are to roll off the assembly line of the factory located in the otherwise sleepy district of Grünheide.

The factory is set to create around 12,000 jobs. The plans do not yet have full approval as the environmental permit from Brandenburg is still pending, Tesla is building at its own risk with provisional permits.

It comes as a new report showed how the German car market has been hit hard by the Covid pandemic. However, Tesla continued its growth in the Bundesrepublik, with more than five times as many cars sold in August as in the same month last year, and is the only brand to have increased sales in 2020.

READ ALSO: New Tesla factory near Berlin to create thousands of jobs

Musk on tour

Musk is currently on the road in Germany. On Tuesday, he visited the headquarters of the biotech company Curevac in Tübingen. The firm is in the advanced stages of developing a potential Covid-19 vaccine.

And on Wednesday he held talks with federal Economics Minister Peter Altmaier, representatives of Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats faction in the Bundestag and Brandenburg's state premier Dietmar Woidke.

According to insider information, Musk spoke with Altmaier for about an hour. They reportedly discussed investments in the car industry.

Other topics were Musk's plans in the areas of space travel and self-driving cars. Curevac was also discussed.

“Musk and Altmaier agreed that Curevac, which is working on new vaccine concepts and is cooperating with Tesla, is one of the most innovative companies in the world,” the insider told the news agency Reuters.

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ENVIRONMENT

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction

Campaigners began a legal challenge against five German regions on Monday to force them to take stronger action on climate change, emboldened by a landmark recent court ruling in favour of environmental protection.

Young activists take German states to court over climate inaction
Demonstrators from the Fridays for Future movement protest in Gießen, Hesse, with a sign saying "No wishy-washy, no climate lashing". Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Frank Rumpenhorst

The plaintiffs are basing their case on a sensational verdict by Germany’s constitutional court in April which found that Germany’s plans to curb CO2 emissions were insufficient to meet the targets of the Paris climate agreement and placed an unfair burden on future generations.

In a major win for activists, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government then brought forward its date for carbon neutrality by five years to 2045, and raised its 2030 target for greenhouse gas reductions.

READ ALSO: 

On Monday, 16 children and young adults began proceedings against the regions of Hesse, Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Saarland, with support of environmental NGO Environmental Action Germany (DUH).

They are charging that none of the states targeted by the legal action have passed sufficiently strong climate legislation at the local level, according to DUH.

“The federal government can’t succeed on its own,” lead lawyer Remo Klinger said in a press conference, highlighting state competence in the area of transport.

DUH worked closely together with the youth climate movement Fridays For Future to find activists willing to front the challenges, the group said.

Seventeen-year-old plaintiff Alena Hochstadt said the western state of Hesse, known for its Frankfurt banking hub, had always been her home but she feared having “no future here”.

Concern about the risk of “floods, storms and droughts” led her and other campaigners to seek “a legal basis for binding climate protection”.

READ ALSO: Climate change made German floods ‘more likely and more intense’

Hesse’s ministers for climate and the economy said they were “surprised” by the announcement.

“DUH clearly has not yet understood that we in Hesse are well ahead,” Priska Hinz and Tarek Al-Wazir said in a joint statement, drawing attention to an energy future law from 2012, before the Paris climate agreement.

In July, DUH-supported activists took the states of Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia and Brandenburg to court on similar grounds.

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