Poland Moving Past Coal

Bełchatów power plant. PHOTO: Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

ELAW partners at Frank Bold send good news: Poland’s General Director for Environmental Protection has refused to issue a permit for the Złoczew open pit lignite mine! If approved, the proposed coal mine would be one of the largest lignite mines in the world.
Lignite, the dirtiest form of coal, fuels Europe’s biggest polluter – Poland’s state-run Bełchatów power plant. “Shelving the Złoczew mine means that Bełchatów will have to be decommissioned in the early 2030s, because lignite will no longer be available in currently mined deposits,” says Miłosz Jakubowski, an attorney at Frank Bold’s Krakow office.
Milosz and his colleagues at Frank Bold have worked for years to accelerate Central Europe’s transition from polluting coal-fired power plants to renewable energy sources. They cooperated closely on this case with Greenpeace Poland as well as local farmers who would lose their land if the mine were built.
“Construction of the mine would destroy 33 villages and settlements,” says Milosz, adding, “roughly 3,000 people, mostly farmers, would have to be resettled.”
ELAW Staff Scientist Dr. Mark Chernaik worked closely with Milosz when he traveled to Oregon as a 2018 ELAW Fellow. In support of a complaint seeking to overturn the permit for the project, Mark helped Milosz develop an estimate of the expected CO2 and methane emissions from the proposed Złoczew lignite mine, information that was absent from the EIA for the project.
Moving forward, Milosz says his organization plans to speed up the energy transition in Poland, including closing existing mines.
Congratulations to Frank Bold and Poland!
For more information, see:
Poland’s General Director for Environmental Protection’s decision, in Polish.
ELAW Bulletin, 10/21/19
Keeping Coal in the Ground in Poland
ELAW Bulletin, 12/4/18
Lignite Mine in Poland Postponed 

Maggie Keenan
Communications Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide