Polish mine workers attack peaceful Greenpeace protest

Feature story - 24 November, 2008
Peaceful protesters from the Greenpeace Climate Rescue Station were attacked by mine workers when they entered the vast Jóźwin IIB open pit mine. As the activists prepared to paint a huge "Stop" sign next to a giant excavator they were assaulted and prevented from carrying out their peaceful protest. A journalist accompanying the activists was beaten. Local people are also against the expansion of this mine, because it threatens their homes and livelihoods.

The Climate Rescue Station overlooks the vast Jóźwin IIB open pit mine.

"Our action is not against the miners but it is addressed to the Polish government. We demand that the forthcoming Polish energy policy contain a concrete plan for quitting coal and implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency.

We also object to opening any new power plants working for lignite. Lignite is the most destructive fuel," says Magdalena Zowsik, Climate and Energy Campaigner in Poland.

The activists at the mine are part of the Greenpeace Climate Rescue Station, which was set up two weeks ago at the edge of the mine to bear witness to the destruction and environmental devastation caused by coal. Just last week 400 members of local communities whose homes and livelihoods are threatened by the mine joined us in a peaceful protest.

And Energy [R]evolution

More then 90 percent of energy in Poland is produced by burning coal, but it doesn't have to be that way. The Greenpeace Energy [R]evolution scenario for Poland shows how Poland can make the transition to generating 80 percent of its power using renewable sources. That would mean an end to the destructive mining and devastated countryside that scars Poland. It would also mean Poland would cease to be one of the twenty largest emitters of CO2 in the world.

Poland's addiction to coal doesn't just harm its environment, it also drives its role in international talks. With the EU just days away form sealing a deal on a response to climate change Poland is actively trying to water down the package so it can carry on polluting. With Poland also due to host the UN Climate Negotiations on December 1 it is essential that Poland adopts a progressive attitude toward the talks and make itself part of the solution.


"Poland and the world need an energy revolution, not more of the same," adds Zowsik. "The science is unequivocal, if we try to continue burning coal we will do untold damage to the planet."

In Poznan, Greenpeace wants to see governments agree a "climate vision" that will address what the science requires: global emissions peaking by 2015. We want to see developed countries agree to targets of 25-40 percent cuts, along with a draft negotiating text on the table and a detailed workplan to get this completed by the time the next round of climate talks begin in Copenhagen in December 2009.

Visit our climate rescue blog

Get the view from the ground as Greenpeace activists describe events at the Climate Rescue Station.