Poland expands coal lignite mine illegally in Turów, despite the European Commission confirming that the licensing process for the mine breaks at least two EU laws. The mine pushes up to the Czech and German borders, depleting water supplies and damaging nearby houses, and has led local communities and authorities in the Czech Republic and Germany to file complaints with the European Commission which has so far failed to act.
The mine is now the focus of an unprecedented Czech lawsuit against Poland, and a new call from 25 NGOs and citizens, urging President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen and Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans to hold Polish authorities accountable, and initiate an infringement procedure against Poland.
Poland is set to receive the lion’s share of the EU’s €17.5 billion Just Transition Fund, but PGE’s plan to extend Turów’s licence could see Poland’s Bogatynia region miss out on the funding, as it would not be demonstrating that it is exiting coal. Two independent studies show how Poland’s electricity grid can function without Turów from 2027 onwards, with one showing it would be over EUR 14 billion cheaper to build a renewables-based alternative to the current Turów mine and plant complex, and would create more jobs.
European Commission takes action on the illegal Turów coal mine
The initially delayed operation of a new 496-MW power plant unit in Turow (Poland) is supposed to start. The unit will benefit from EU money via Polish capacity mechanisms, which are often used as backdoor subsidies for unviable economic investments.
Turow coal mine, sharing the border with Germany and the Czech Republic, has been operating illegally for the last year, violating the EU law and putting local communities at risk of serious water scarcity. Even so, yesterday the Polish government authorised mining operations to continue until 2044.
“All power production from coal in the EU must stop by 2030 for at least two obvious reasons. One, continuing using coal, a highly polluting fossil fuel, will make the Paris Agreement objective extremely hard to reach. Second, power production from coal is a killing and dying business. It is not economically viable and deteriorates communities’ lives polluting the air, water, soil.
Climate Action Network (CAN)
Prolonging the coal mining activities until 2044 and adding a new lignite power unit to start operating now, which is also to be paid from citizens’ pockets, is outrageous,” said Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe’s Senior Energy Policy Coordinator, Elif Gündüzyeli.
Turow mine’s numerous violations of European law were confirmed by the European Commission, yet the Commission has so far refrained from starting an infringement process against the Polish government, despite neighbouring Member States’ objections to the mining activities prolongation.
The city of Brussels saw a massive advertisement deployment this week with messages against the European Green Deal, sponsored by the Polish company, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE). The company had announced becoming climate neutral by 2050 while showing clear intentions to continue its coal business until at least 2044. PGE plans to transfer its coal assets to the state, as coal power production gets too expensive for the company, once again as a burden on the citizens’ shoulders.
“Turow coal mine expansion violates local communities basic rights and kills any hope of a climate-safe future. It is about time for the European Commission to hold the Polish authorities accountable for the breaches in the implementation of EU law by joining the Czech Republic in the Court case, and to immediately start an infringement procedure against Poland,” added Elif Gündüzyeli.