VICTORY! Polish coal mine construction halted

Feature story - 12 March, 2009
We are delighted that the construction of an open-pit coal mine in Poland, where we set up a Climate Rescue Station in December 2008, has been suspended. This is a significant win in our battle against the mine, which would have lead to around 50 million tonnes of CO2 being released into the atmosphere, the displacement of hundreds of local people, water pollution and land destruction in an ecosystem protected under the Natura 2000 network.

The Climate Rescue Station perched on the edge of the Jozwin II B open cast mine in Poland - was the focal point of our campaign against coal in December 2008.

A Polish court found possible illegalities in the environmental assessment process that gave the green light to the open-pitmine in Tomislawice near Konin, and construction has now been suspended pending an investigation. This encouraging result follows our legal challenge ofthe assessment process in December 2008.

Coal is the worst polluting of all fossil fuels, and it is the single greatestthreat facing our climate. Lignite (brown coal) releases more CO2 thanany other type of coal so it's a great relief to see construction of this massive new mine suspended! And while this is only a delay, our campaign team in Poland feels that there is now a good chance that the mine will be totally cancelled. They are doing everything (peacefully) possible to make sure this is the case.

To the rescue

By supporting the local community we have been mounting pressure on the government to cancel plans for coal expansion.Our Climate Rescue Station, on the edge of the existing mine near Konin, was the focal point of our campaign against coal in the run-up to and during UN climate negotiationstaking place in Poznan, Poland, last December.

We helped to catalyse the local plight of hundreds of residents who risk having theirlivelihoods ruined by the mine. We supported a protestof 400 locals and hosted international journalists while our activists occupied a nearby coal-fired power plant for 50hours.

Scientists raise the alarm

This victory comes as leading scientists are sharing their latest climate research in Copenhagen, Denmark. They have just warned that climate change is accelerating at a greater rate than they expected and that it will worsen dramatically if we do not takeurgent action now. Copenhagen will also host the most important UNclimate negotiations ever this December. As governmentsprepare for this meeting we are reminding them that quitting coal isessential to any meaningful deal to save the climate.

Poland is renowned for being obstructive in climate negotiations andfor its attempts to undermine EU climate policy. The country uses coalto produce 93 per cent of its electricity, more than double the worldaverage.

Poland needs an energy [r]evolution

It is wonderful to see that the voice of the local community has beenheard in Poland. And we are now warning the Polish Prime Minister that if he adoptsan energy policy that gives a green light to coal expansion thiswill be widely opposed by many Polish citizens.

The government has just presented an energy proposal full of coal and nuclear power without enough support for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our office in Poland is continuing to promote its Energy [R]evolution scenario, a detailed study of future energy pathways, which shows how Poland can move away from coal, and produce 80 per cent of its electricity from renewable energy resources by 2050.

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