The future of coal worries in Katowice, home of the Climate Summit

The future of coal worries in Katowice, home of the Climate Summit

Katowice, which hosts the United Nations Climate Summit, symbolizes the weight of coal in Poland, where this fossil fuel generates 80% of electricity.

This country has an authentic dependence on coal that it extracts from its own mines (most located in the Silesia region, where Katowice is located) and which is heavily subsidized.

The sector, which employs more than 100,000 people in Poland, maintains a great influence on national policy.

"Sooner or later we have to make the leap to other sources of energy, we have no other choice, and the sooner we have a definite plan to act, the better," the member of the Committee of Electric Utilities of Poland, Kazimierz Szynol, told Efe. born in this mining region and aware of the opposition that the changes will generate.

But, for now, it remains unchanged in the Polish economy, and the authorities, with the country's president, Andrzej Duda, at the head, have insisted in Katowice that the transition to any cleaner energy must take into account the needs of each country and the future of workers in that sector.

On December 4, for example, the Polish president played two roles, one at the Climate Summit, where he defended green energies, and another before coal miners, on his employer's day, in front of whom he said he will not allow to "kill" this vital sector of the national industry.

"Coal mining is a Polish industry that has been in our history forever, we should not allow from outside of Poland come to tell us that we can not use this fuel that gives employment, allows us to have energy at a good price and develop our economy "retired miner Marcin Sas told Efe, after a lifetime in mines in the area.

The unions in the sector have already been against any "traumatic" change, and even the powerful union Solidaridad has just asked to keep coal in the "energy mix".

The union questions the "ideology imposed" by the United Nations on climate change and the "absolute truth" that the world is on the edge of the abyss of global warming.

Duda's speech is part of the electoral campaign that already lives in Poland, with general elections in 2019, although it is striking that the president of the host country of a Climate Summit openly defend the use of coal, the most polluting fuel and causing the Polish skies to be among the most polluted in Europe.

Ending the dependence on coal will have a "very high" cost, energy expert Krzysztot Lakowski told Efe, who also foresees strong popular opposition, not only from those who lose their jobs, but also due to the foreseeable increase in the price of electricity. energy in a country that has one of the cheapest light receipts in Europe.

To achieve this and to converge with the ambitious objectives of Brussels, says Lakowski, "it will be necessary to have European funds", since otherwise it will be "very traumatic for Poland".

In a conversation with Efe during the inauguration of the Climate Summit, the Polish Minister of the Environment, Henryk Kowalczyk, came out in defense of his country after criticism from various quarters for the apparent contradiction of presiding over the COP24 a country that gets Coal most of your energy.

"In Poland we have already begun to change our energy mix, but we can not do it suddenly, but little by little we reduce the weight of coal with new alternatives," Kowalczyk explained.

The Central European country aims to reduce the weight of coal to 60% by 2030 and 30% by 2040, taking as reference the 1990 levels, thanks to an energy policy based on nuclear energy (with the connection to the network in 2033 of the first of the six planned plants) and renewable sources.

These objectives remain below those of the European Union, which is more ambitious and seeks a cut of emissions of 45% by 2030, which would put pressure on Member States such as Poland.

For the deputy director of the global climate and energy program of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), Vanesa Pérez, "appointments such as the Climate Summit give the countries the opportunity to take leadership", for which she hopes the Polish Government " Start to change your speech and launch very clear messages aimed at reducing emissions and a cleaner economy, "he told Efe.


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