Will Poland make coal great again?
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.”