Poland’s coal dependence has propelled the country at the forefront of European Union efforts to decarbonise energy production, the bloc’s largest source of emissions. With climate change now a top political priority, Warsaw is coming under growing pressure to close remaining coal mines and power stations.
In this special report, EURACTIV looks at the different coal phase-out strategies adopted by central European countries and examines the social and economic implications for Poland, which has the highest share of coal in its electricity mix.
For decades, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic have been at the heart of Europe's so-called "lignite triangle" which produces most of the continent's coal-based electricity. But with climate change now a top political priority, the priority is shifting to renewables.
Tensions have mounted at the Polish, Czech and German border over a coal mine in Poland that Prague says is contaminating its water supplies and has been operating illegally for over a year.
The Turów coal mine and power plant complex is “strategic for ensuring the energy security of Poland,” says PGE, the state-owned enterprise at the centre of a dispute with the Czech Republic over the extension of mining operations there.
European trade unions welcome ambitious EU climate policies, but warn that they need to be implemented alongside an equally ambitious social transition plan or risk sowing the seeds of a backlash, says Judith Kirton-Darling.
Only a Green Deal that is just, based on solidarity and sensitive to the differences between EU countries has a chance of success. Otherwise, we will see a predatory transition and the failure of the whole project.
"We need to show …