Belchatow, Poland – Early this morning, Greenpeace activists climbed a 180 metre-high chimney at Belchatow power plant, the largest climate polluter in Europe and one of the largest coal fuelled power plants in the world, to demand climate action and a coal phase out.[1]

Greenpeace said political leaders meeting next week at the UN climate talks (COP24) in Katowice, Poland, must take responsibility and address the global climate crisis and take urgent, immediate action.

Discussions at COP24 will take place in the wake of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC), which in October made it clear that we only have 12  years left to act decisively on climate change if we’re to stay within the 1.5 degrees Celsius target.[2]

Greenpeace activist from Poland Marek Józefiak said:

We are pushing nature to the brink and now she’s pushing back. A climate crisis is unfolding before our eyes, and political leaders who have the power to change the course of events must lead us towards a solution.

I am from a mining family, we have been connected to coal mining for generations. There is no future in coal. What we need is a just transition from coal and fossil fuels to renewables. A just transition that respects people and the environment, guaranteeing a better future for all. If it wants to be a responsible COP24 host, Poland must move beyond coal, stop promoting false solutions and drive ambition at Katowice.

Representatives of climate vulnerable nations – the Philippines and Indonesia – joined Greenpeace activists in Belchatow to remind political leaders of the real effects of climate change: people losing their lives, their homes, their relatives, not being able to care for their families and not having access to food and water.

Climate activist Joanna Sustento said:

“Climate change is not about statistics and numbers in a news report. Before typhoon Haiyan, I had a happy life, a good job, a loving family. It was all swept away in a few minutes and I am the only one left behind with my brother. But even in the biggest of tragedies, hope can be found, and we are now millions across the world standing up to fight for basic human rights to a stable and healthy climate.”

From Germany to Vanuatu, from the Netherlands to the US, Canada and Peru, people are mobilising worldwide, protesting against lack of adequate climate action.[3] It is now up to governments to stop promoting false solutions and financing polluting utilities, they must move beyond coal and fossil fuels and drive climate ambition at Katowice.

ENDS

Photo and video footage can be accessed here

Notes:

[1]  Poland hosts Belchatow, Europe’s largest lignite-alimented plant and largest coal polluter, and plans to build a new one. Belchatow is operated by state-owned facility PGE, and is responsible for the emission of about 38 mln tonnes of CO2 per year. It is about a tenth of all CO2 emissions of Poland. Belchatow is also responsible for significant air pollution, with mercury emissions levels of 2820 kg/year. This means that the power plant in Bełchatów emits yearly more mercury than the whole industry of Spain. Poland and Germany are jointly responsible for 51% of the EU’s installed capacity and 54% of the emissions from coal-fired power plants.

[2] Greenpeace media briefing on the IPCC report

[3] Germany’s protest at Hambach; Dutch legal action; Vanuatu legal action. US and Peru climate change lawsuits; Quebec’s youth sues Government of Canada for inaction on climate changeIn addition, developing nations most at risk due to climate change have urged leaders of the world’s biggest polluting regions – EU, US and China – to step up their ambition and commit to the 1.5 degrees target.

Contacts:

It is possible to interview our activists via skype. Please contact Katarzyna Guzek, +48 500 236 211

Luisa Colasimone, Communication lead, mobile +351 910 678 050 or +32 479 100 067,   luisa.colasimone@greenpeace.org

Katarzyna Guzek, Polish media, mobile: +48 500 236 211, katarzyna.guzek@greenpeace.org

Pawel Szypulski, Greenpeace Poland campaigner, mobile: +48 797 713 873,   pawel.szypulski@greenpeace.org

Greenpeace International Press Desk, pressdesk.int@greenpeace.org, phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)