Will Poland make coal great again?

The New European - - Agenda -

WAR­SAW: From mass co­ral die-offs to ever-more dev­as­tat­ing for­est fires, hur­ri­canes and floods, the planet ap­pears to be hurtling to­wards a new era of cli­mate chaos. And as ne­go­tia­tors from around the world meet in Ka­tow­ice, Poland, for the lat­est round of dis­cus­sions on im­ple­ment­ing the Paris cli­mate agree­ment, there is lit­tle sign world lead­ers are pre­pared to act quickly enough to limit the dam­age.

That is par­tic­u­larly true of the Pol­ish gov­ern­ment, which is host­ing the sum­mit. In an ar­ti­cle for Gazeta Wybor­cza, Katarzyna Wezyk ac­cused it of pre­sent­ing a ‘green’ face to the world as it ploughs on ahead with its dirty and un­prof­itable coal in­dus­try.

“Poland is an oa­sis of nor­mal­ity – of clean air, green mead­ows, lush forests, wind farms and elec­tric cars. At least ac­cord­ing to the ad­vert pro­mot­ing Poland in the run-up to the UN cli­mate sum­mit,” Wezyk wrote. “Those same wind tur­bines had their con­struc­tion frozen by the Law and Jus­tice gov­ern­ment in 2016 thanks to the so-called ‘wind­mill law’, which in­creased the min­i­mum dis­tance be­tween a wind farm and res­i­den­tial build­ings. To­day, four fifths of our elec­tric­ity comes from hard and brown coal – and the gov­ern­ment feels no par­tic­u­lar com­pul­sion to change this.”

When it comes to trans­port, the coun­try fares lit­tle bet­ter, she added. “Poles have some­thing of the Amer­i­can ap­proach – and that’s Texas rather than New York. In War­saw last year, there were al­most seven cars for ev­ery ten res­i­dents – three times more than in Berlin or Copen­hagen.” Very few of these cars are elec­tric. “We im­port old diesel cars from the west in ever greater num­bers, the ones Ger­mans are get­ting rid of be­cause mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties there are ban­ning them from city cen­tres.”

In fact, the only truth in the whole ad­vert is the open­ing line, Wezyk said. “It’s our home, but we could lose if it we don’t take care of it,” the ad­vert claims. “It’s good that the gov­ern­ment is at least aware of this. But it’s a pity it’s not do­ing any­thing to put its own house in or­der.”

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