Berlin (CNN)This week, the German city of Bonn is the venue for hundreds of diplomats who are busy hammering out a road map to save the planet from climate change.
As Germany hosts green summit, an energy firm is razing a nearby forest
The country would seem an ideal host, with its sterling reputation for driving an ambitious green agenda centered around "energiewende," or transition to renewable energy.
Yet less than an hour's drive away from the COP23 summit lies an example of Germany's dirty environmental secret: A 12-thousand-year-old forest that has been almost completely consumed by the country's ravenous addiction to coal power.
Germany's biggest electricity provider, RWE, runs the vast open-pit mine that encroaches on Hambach Forest. Giant steel excavators grind away at the 33-square mile hole, leaving a scar on the green landscape but producing 40 million metric tons of coal annually.
Every year since 1978, the mine has been allowed to fell a section of forest to access the lignite, or "brown coal," beneath. As a result, the Hambach woodland has now shrunk to less than 10% of its original size, according to estimates by RWE and environmental activists.
A court decision next week could clear the way for logging operations to continue again this year. If the court finds in favor of RWE, the firm says it plans to raze another section of the forest.