Belchatow, Poland- Greenpeace Poland informed state-owned  coal utility PGE today that it will have no choice but to sue, if the company does not take action to protect the climate and proceed to phase-out coal by 2030. It would be the first lawsuit against a utility in Poland based on the harmful impact of its activities on the climate.

On the evening of November 28, six Greenpeace activists who had climbed the chimney of Europe’s largest coal power plant, operated by PGE, left the tower because of critically high levels of air pollution, after spending over 40 hours on the 180-metres high chimney top.[1]

“We will not stand by and watch pollution devastate our planet without taking action. After protesting at the plant, we have written to PGE asking the coal utility to do what is needed to avoid a climate catastrophe. If PGE does not respond to these requests, we will take them to court,” said Paweł Szypulski of Greenpeace Poland.

“We need urgent and brave action, but state-controlled energy companies continue to invest in fossil fuels, because of irresponsible politicians shaping Polish energy policy. Energy minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski has consistently blocked the development of renewable energy sources in a bid to maintain Poland’s dependence on coal. The protest in Belchatow sent a clear message to political and business leaders that it is high time to take responsibility and act in the interests of all of us, because a climate  catastrophe will affect each and every one of us,” he added.

In the letter sent today to the President of PGE, Greenpeace Poland called on the company to cease the development of new fossil fuel projects, in particular the construction of the Zloczew and Gubin-Brody mines and the extension of the opencast mine in Turow. [2] Also to develop and implement a strategy that will lead to a complete phase out of carbon dioxide emissions from all their power plants by 2030 at the latest. Greenpeace Poland announced that it will bring the case to court, should PGE fail to comply with these demands.

Joanna Sustento, climate activist from the Philippines, who lost her relatives in typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and came to Belchatow to support the protest, said: “We resist a future where tragedies seem to be the new normal. We resist a life that hinders us from dreaming big, for fear that these dreams will be just a stagnant reminder of a future we will never have. We resist a life that is dependent on drilling and digging the Earth’s core for filth, while people in vulnerable communities are forced to be sacrificial lambs.”

A recent opinion poll commissioned by Greenpeace Poland shows that 69% of Poles support coal phase-out by 2030 and the development of renewable energies.[3]

Greenpeace took action at Belchatow to urge political leaders meeting at next week’s UN climate talks (COP24) in Katowice, Poland to take responsibility and address the global climate crisis by taking urgent, immediate action. Polish coal is number 15 of the top 100 companies driving climate change according to the Climate Accountability Institute.[4]

 

ENDS

Photo and video footage from the past days are available here

Notes:

[1] Greenpeace press release

[2] Full letter sent to PGE by Greenpeace Poland (in Polish, under translation into EN).

[3] link to the opinion poll (in Polish)

[4]https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2017/jul/10/100-fossil-fuel-companies-investors-responsible-71-global-emissions-cdp-study-climate-change

Contacts:

Luisa Colasimone, Communication lead, Greenpeace CEE-Poland: +351 910 678 050 or +32 479 100 067, luisa.colasimone@greenpeace.org

Katarzyna Guzek, media officer, Greenpeace Poland: +48 500 236 211, katarzyna.guzek@greenpeace.org

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

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