Keeping Coal in the Ground in Poland

Protestors in Poland parade with an inflatable mining drill, calling for zero carbon emissions by 2030. PHOTO: Greenpeace Poland

Efforts to fast-track new coal mines in Poland are coming under fire.
Last week, Poland’s Parliament dropped plans for a law that would allow the government to open new coal mines without the approval of local authorities. The Institute for Energy, Economics, and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) says this postponement pressures Poland “to prepare for the gradual closure of Bełchatów, Europe’s largest coal-fired power plant.”
ELAW partner Milosz Jakubowski, an attorney at Frank Bold, writes that the draft law was shelved due to coordinated efforts of NGOs, communities, and local governments.
“The Polish government wants to keep coal as the main source of energy for the upcoming decades, but society knows better,” says Milosz. “People are protesting against new coal mines all over the country. Recent polls show that the vast majority of Poles see climate change as the world’s biggest threat.”
Milosz was a 2018 ELAW Fellow. He and his colleagues are challenging plans for the Zloczew open-pit lignite mine, which Reuters reports would displace 3,000 people from their homes while supplying coal for Bełchatów.
Lignite is the dirtiest form of coal. The ELAW science team provided a technical assessment of the potentially devastating climate impacts of the Złoczew lignite mine. IEEFA reports that the demise of the draft mining law means that Poland’s plans for Złoczew may now be dead.
“Grassroots efforts to phase out coal in Poland are working, and ELAW will continue to provide support to partners around the world fighting coal development,” says Dr. Mark Chernaik, ELAW Staff Scientist.
For more information on ELAW’s work around the world keeping coal in the ground, please contact:
Maggie Keenan
Communications Director

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide