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Polish citizens file lawsuit against government over coal emissions

June 11, 2021

The Guardian:

Five Polish citizens are taking their government to court over its failure to protect them from the impacts of the climate crisis.

They say the state has breached their rights to life, health and family life by delaying action to cut national carbon emissions and propping up the coal industry.

The claimants are being represented by the international environmental law charity ClientEarth and the Polish law firm Gessel. It will be the first time national climate policy has been directly challenged in a Polish court.

They will argue that the Polish government has been negligent in failing to act swiftly enough to cut emissions and aim to show how individuals have already been affected by climate change. In addition to well-recognised domestic rights to life, health, privacy and family life under Polish civil law, the cases will try to establish the legal right to a safe climate.

The claimants want the Polish government to commit to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by at least 60% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, and to being climate neutral by 2043. This is more ambitious than EU targets.

Poland has so far proved reluctant to phase out polluting coal, because the industry employs about 80,000 people and is politically influential. But the high price of European carbon permits and the increasing reluctance of banks to fund coal projects are on the verge of making it uneconomic.

[Isabella Kaminski]

More: Polish government faces court action over failure to tackle climate crisis

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