In Poland, the dispute over Turów is getting more entrenched every day. Activists are demanding that PGE start treating climate crises with due seriousness and back out of plans to extend the mining concession until 2044. PGE, syndicates and the municipality of Bogatynia seem to be deaf to the arguments of the other side and are stubbornly insisting on the complex working as long as possible. They are thus ignoring not only the climate threat, but also economic catastrophe of the region, which will become stripped out of the financial support from Just Transition Fund.
On March, 17, Greenpeace activists entered the premises of the Turów lignite mine in order to point out to the fact that PGE is ignoring the deepening climate crises. On the mining excavator they hung a huge banner with the logos of PGE and the Ministry of State Assets with the slogan “Climate crisis? F*ck it!”
- The climate crises is deepening and PGE actions come down to shrugging their shoulders and saying “f*ck it”. It's outrageous that the biggest energy company in the country has no real transformation plan, one that would include coal phase-out. Joanna Flisowska, the coordinator of climate and energy team in Greenpeace comments — PGE is big on the ecology talk, but is still pursuing new coal investments, including the extension of the Turów lignite mine’s operations even until 2044.
Together with the activists’ action, Greenpeace prepared a petition to the Minister of Climate and Environment, Michał Kurtyka and to the president of the management board of PGE, Wojciech Dąbrowski, and the signatures are being collected at the moment. The goal of the petition is to convince the company and the ministry to give up plans to expand the lignite open cast in Turów and back out of plans to extend the license and set the year 2030 as the date of coal combustion phase-out in Poland.
Sign the petition: https://act.greenpeace.org/page/78456/action/1
PGE reacted to the Greenpeace action by holding a press conference. Meanwhile Greenpeace clearly emphasizes that the protest is against the extension of the license until 2044 and demands that Poland back out of coal until 2030, PGE representatives claim that the activists demand immediate mine shutdown. The company's spokesperson has stressed that the shutdown was impossible since there wasn't enough time to requalify their employees. Yet another time, they skipped the fact that without indicating coal phase-out date, as per the UE laws, the region will lose its opportunity to obtain funds from Just Transition Fund, and without that, it get into economic collapse.
The arguments of the syndicates and municipality representatives from Bogatynia are in the similar vein. Wojciech Dobrołowicz, acting Meyer of the City and Municipality of Bogatynia, together with the representatives of syndicates of power station and mine, on March, 15, signed a common standpoint regarding the Turów complex. They opt for “extending the mining license until 2044”. The document is supposed to be presented to the Polish authorities and the president of the European Commission, among others.
In the meantime, everything indicates that the Court of Justice of the EU will decide in two weeks whether to agree to the Czech request on imposing interim measures on Poland. Will the lack of Polish cooperation impact the CJEU’s decision?
Just for the record: Czechia demands mine's operations be put on hold until CJEU will have passed the sentence. Such a scenario would inarguably become a tragedy for the region, which in no way is prepared for a sudden cease of mining. However, if the Court decides to impose interim measures and Poland ignores it, the country may face severe sanctions. Potential costs of the penalty imposed by the CJEU would be incurred by all the taxpayers. PGE won't pay a dime, since “it’s not a party to the dispute”.
There is no hope for the hotels, shops have been shut down, the famous Upper Lusation Houses are perishing and yet another buildings are being demolished. In the Turów mine hole, Opolno-Zdrój is vanishing — former student resort town. Local people live in insecurity, many of them are waiting to be offered displacement.
One of the chances to save the place are supposed to be arts festivals, which helped formerly forgotten towns, such as Nowa Ruda, Sokołowsko and Miedzianka and once again drew attention to them.
This year, in Opolno-Zdrój, a series of arts residencies organized by the Academy of Art and Design in Wrocław and Wrocław Contemporary Museum will take place. It’s related to the 50th. Anniversary of the first in Poland open air festival, combining contemporary art with environment protection, will has just taken place in Opolno-Zdrój.
— What is most interesting to me in Opolno is the contact between the consequences of the industrialization, planet exploitation and architectural heritage. This hole in the ground has its meaning, just as this silence in Miedzianka, which appeared after the whole city disappeared. In this tension between the abyss of the open cast and the fact that it used to be a place to come, there is room for action. − said Filip Springer, during a debate on the future of the whole former resort, organized by EKO-UNIA Association.