Who wants to dig up entire villages, destroy livelihoods and lock in emissions making climate catastrophe a certainty? Surely some corrupted failed state in the developing world? Think again. This is the aim of the self-proclaimed global climate leader: Europe.
Massive lignite deposits lie at the border of Germany and Poland in the Lusatia region. This brown coal haven is being eyed by Vattenfall – a company owned by the Swedish state, and the Polish Energy Group PGE which has the ear of Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Dozens of villages are threatened by bulldozing with some 6000 people losing their homes and livelihoods to make way for these lignite mines.
The Polish government is known to play a reckless game risking people’s lives and the climate, insisting coal will be the basis of the Polish energy policy at least until 2050 – against the public opinion of the Poles.
Having this huge environmental crime at the brink of becoming a reality due to the involvement of climate champions like Germany and Sweden is, however, so grossly inconsistent with the climate-friendly profile these countries like to show that we simply cannot stay at home.
The climate impact of extracting the lignite deposits in Poland and Eastern Germany, including Lusatia, would be devastating. Burning the lignite for energy would use up half of the CO2 budget of Germany and Poland from 2020 to 2050.
This is simply too much for other sectors than energy to compensate for, even with dramatic emission cuts. Do the math. The lignite must stay in the ground.
I am a Finnish citizen, having moved to Poland just over a year ago to do the most I possibly can to prevent climate catastrophe in a key battleground.
I need your help if you too care about preventing this climate crime being committed by the supposedly climate friendliest continent on our planet.
I do not ask you to relocate but rather to join hands with me, the local inhabitants desperate to save their villages, and thousands of others from at least 14 European countries this Saturday in a Human Chain.
The chain will link the endangered villages of Kerkwitz in Germany and Grabice in Poland. We will say a resounding no to the open pit mines and a heartfelt yes to renewables just two months before the EU leaders decide on our energy future.
At a time like this, it is the hour to stand up and be counted. Join us this Saturday.
Meri Pukarinen is the Climate and Energy Unit Head with Greenpeace Poland.
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