July 28, 2020 Read More →

Polish government planning first steps in country’s transition away from coal dependence

Bloomberg:

Poland’s government is starting discussions with utilities and powerful mining unions about speeding up the country’s green transformation.

The European Union’s most coal-dependent country has kept quiet about the details of its plans, which local newspapers reported include a target to stop thermal coal production by 2036, the idling of two mines this year and 6.75 billion zloty ($1.8 billion) in state aid and subsidies. The initial reaction of trade unions signals the government is in for a fight.

“We’ll pick up the gauntlet and fight for every mining job,” Boguslaw Hutek, the head of the Solidarity miners’ union, was cited as saying by news outlets in the coal-rich Silesia region.

Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin is in Silesia on Tuesday to speak with PGG SA, the EU’s biggest producer of the fuel, and its unions about going green. The move highlights the policy U-turn made by the government, which won power in 2015 after vowing to keep the Poland running on coal for the foreseeable future.

But as the dirty fuel has become increasingly expensive due to rising prices of carbon emissions and strict EU policies, the government has embraced renewable energy. While it’s unrolling one of the continent’s largest offshore wind projects, it’s alone among the EU’s 27 nations in refusing to sign up for the bloc’s 2050 climate neutrality goal.

Sasin is set to propose idling two mines at PGG already this year. It also envisages pay cuts and dismissal of workers, all financed with subsidies for the state-owned mining company, according to PAP newswire.

[Maciej Martewicz]

More: Europe’s coal heartland starts talks on phasing out the fuel

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