COAL AND... CLIMATE, HEALTH, AIR, WATER

After Germany, Poland is the second largest producer of lignite in the European Union (EU). We still obtain 80% of electricity from coal, including 30% from lignite - one of the dirtiest fossil fuels. This raw material has a very low calorific value, and during its combustion toxic gases and dust get into the air. And so, in 2013, the Pątnów II power plant belonged to the top ten largest mercury emitters on the continent.

As a consequence, Poland is one of the most polluted EU countries in terms of air quality. According to the report "Europe's dark cloud: How coal-burning countries make their neighbors sick" from 2016, we rank first among countries poisoning themselves and their neighbors with harmful dust. The statistical number of premature deaths caused by coal burning in Polish power plants is 5830, including 4690 abroad. Most coal power plants, including the Pątnów I, Pątnów II and Konin power plants owned by ZE PAK SA, are subject to derogations, i.e. they do not have to meet European emission standards.

Since the beginning of coal mining in Wielkopolska, 12 billion cubic meters of groundwater have been pumped out, i.e. over 70% of the total volume of all lakes in Poland. This has a dramatic impact on the water management of the region: the Noteć river has dried up over a distance of about 30 kilometers, the water level in the lakes of the Gnieźnieńskie Lakeland has decreased by several meters, Lake Ostrowskie divided into two parts, and the shoreline of Lake Wilczyńskie - near which the first edition of Camp for Climate took place - seriously stepped back. This is associated with huge losses for local agriculture and the tourism industry - the main pillars of the region's economy. It should be remembered that the water balance of Poland is very unfavorable - the amount of water per year per person is just over 1500 cubic meters, 3 times less than the European average and 4.5 times less than the average for the world. Periodic water deficits already affect three quarters of the country, and the situation in Greater Poland is - next to Mazovia - the worst. Added to this is pollution - of both water and air - noise, as well as fear of displacement of subsequent villages.

Learn more:

A stress test for coal in Europe under the Paris Agreement (Climate Analytics, 2017) Post-Mining Regions in Central Europe – Problems, Potentials, Possibilities (red Wirth, Černič Mali, Fischer, 2012)