Tesla’s construction of its Gigafactory 4, outside Berlin, Germany, will likely result in the creation of many hundreds of thousands of new electric vehicles per year—helping replace internal combustion vehicles and meet ambitious EU carbon dioxide targets.
So it’s an odd juxtaposition that Tesla is being ordered to stop cutting down carbon-reducing trees.
It all happened very quickly by German standards. Elon Musk announced just three months ago that Tesla would be building its first European factory—for batteries, powertrains, and full vehicles—outside Berlin, in Grünheide. And Tesla bought the 227-acre site for its plant just a month ago, according to German press reports.
There have been some abrupt twists and turns to the story over the weekend. Thursday, permission was granted—despite an emergency appeal made by environmental groups—to start work at the site at its own risk, with the condition that a number of final approvals still hadn’t been issued. Then Sunday environmentalists won a court injunction that temporarily put a halt to the forest clearing.
Tesla Gigafactory 2, Buffalo NY
According to one source, Tagesspiegel, Tesla will need to relocate some wildlife at the site, including ants, reptiles, and bats, and hang up 400 nesting boxes for birds and their March mating season.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has already put some of his personal money behind tree planting. In October he donated $1 million toward a climate-change fundraising effort spurred by YouTube celebrities.
Tesla's planned factory has helped soothe negotiations with the European Union, during a time in which there’s a lot of pressure from within Germany to keep manufacturing and engineering resources there.
Germany is on track to become the biggest electric-vehicle market in Europe, and the country boosted buyer incentives on EVs last year.
Tesla has said that it plans to be producing vehicles at the European factory as soon as next summer.