The storm surrounding Turów is going on, but Polska Grupa Energetyczna appears to be blind and deaf to the voices from Europe. While in the European Court of Justice the further fate of the mine and the plant is at stake, PGE is dedicating yet another power unit. The activists, Polish as well as European, are raising their voices against the actions of the company, but the media remain indifferent to these protests.
1. New power block is kicking off
PGE will dedicate a new power block (496 MW) of the Turów power plant in Bogatynia. This will be the last lignite powered block started in Poland and it will be dedicated with a 16-month delay. It has also turned put to be more expensive than planned, with a cost of 4 billion PLN.
All Polish citizens will pay for it in taxes and elevated electricity bills, while many will also pay with their health. The costs of climate crises, on the other hand, to which the investment will contribute, are raising with every tonne of greenhouse gases emitted to the atmosphere, regardless of the place they come from.
On the night of May, 12th, the Greenpeace activists captioned the following words on the cooling tower of the new block: “We will burn your future here.” PGE”. On the tower, the portrait of the minister Jacek Sasin appeared as well, “the government member responsible for the coal sector who is promising the miners that Poland will stick to coal until 2049”, Together with the face of a girl from PGE campaign, with an inscription “Why are your burning my future?”
Greenpeace stresses that the new bock will be emitting as much CO2 as two and a half millions of cars.
- Its yearly CO2 footprint may be compared to a car trip of nine million people in cars on the route Warsaw-Athens or to a yearly emissions of two and a half millions of cars - stresses Marek Józefiak from Greenpeace. - Wholesale energy prices in Poland are among the highest in Europe and further sticking to coal will only deepen the problem.
Against PGE actions rise also the members of Fridays for Future. They initiated a campaign in the social media, opposing strongly against the company's actions. On the photos in black and white we see young faces of Fridays For Future movement members, with an inscription “PGE, why do you want to steal our future? Poland not coalland”
“Opening a new coal block in #Turów in 2021 means not PGE cheating and making a mockery out of the future of the community of miners. Its also a direct action against scientific proof, which may be directly called a climate crime and destruction of our future” . Say members of Fridays for Future.
2. Children want to live without pulmonary diseases
For the record, PGE in their campaign “Green Deal and not wild transformation” bought a series of sponsored articles in Polish and foreign press and in Brussels and Prague billboards appeared.
The insolent PGE campaign appalled not only the Czechs and the Poles. The company’s nerve is upsetting to more and more people and organizations in Europe. In Brussells, Extinction Rebellion Belgium prepared a response to PGE on new billboards.
PGE billboards showed a black and white photo of a sad girl asking: “Why do you want to deprive my family of livelihood?” On those put by XR the same photo showed a different message: “Why weren’t you acting when you still had time?” and “Why didn't you leave fossil fuels in the ground?”
The billboards were commented by a satirical daily newspaper AszDziennik: “The first version of the poster was supposed to convince to accept coal mining in the PGE Turów mine until 2044. The current one is encouraging that the girl shown on the photo survives until 2044 without pulmonary diseases”.
3. Law at the service of open pit mine
In the media, the echoes of the decision granting the PGE mining license until 2044, given on the 28th of April for Turów, continue. Dziennik Gazeta Prawna pointed out that the concession was granted just before a change of law that was being pushed by Brussels.
“On the government’s list of legislative works appeared a bill of amendment to the Act on sharing information about the environment and its protection, public participation in environmental protection and environmental impact assessment. After it will have been adopted, it won't be possible to grant a single extension of coal mining license, brown nor black, with an open-pit method “without the necessity to previously obtain environmental permit”. And that is exactly what happened with the license granted to Turów last year (allowing extraction until 2026), as well as now, with the license given in April 2021.
- The basis for both was a decision, given in 2020, by the Regional Direction of Environmental Protection, which was appealed to the General Direction of Environmental Protection, so it is not final. Therefore, in our opinion, it shouldn’t be a basis of granting a license, given the appeal process in course before the General Direction of Environmental Protection - says Anna Meres from Greenpeace Polska.
4. Will the European Commission finally intervene?
On May, 10th, members of Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) met with Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries. One of the topics tackled was the Turów mine.
An MEP, Róża Thun, informed on Twitter that the commissioner Sinkevičius, in response to her question, announced initiation of infringement proceedings against Polish government “unless Turów lignite mine stops!”
Photo: Greenpeace Poland