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A loud "No" to a new coal company in Poland

Updated: Aug 31, 2022

"It is absurd that decisions about the transformation of Silesia are made in Warsaw, without the participation of representatives of the region. And it is us, and not the inhabitants of the capital, who will face the consequences of this process", said Patryk Białas, Volunteer Coordinator of the Polish Climate Reality Europe team at the press conference.

On August 25, community workers and local government officials met with journalists to express their loud opposition to the government's plans. Soon, the bill establishing the Fund for the Transformation of Silesia is to be submitted to the Parliament.

"During the consultations, cities and non-governmental organizations with many years of experience in the process of energy transformation were 'forgotten'. Only coal companies and business organizations were invited to the discussion. We are sure that it did not happen by accident," emphasized Patryk Białas, Volunteer Coordinator for Climate Reality Europe.

There are many controversial provisions in the project. Community activists and local government officials point out that the members of the first management board of the new company will not have to be competent to manage public property. Moreover, the document did not indicate the sources of financing the institution. "It looks like preparations for a jump to European cash. Maybe the new company is counting on funds from the Just Transformation Fund and will become its main administrator?" Patryk Białas asks. "Such a move may result in a lack of funds for the regions, i.e. where they are really needed" adds the social justice campaigner.

The mayor of Bieruń, Krystian Grzesica, is also critical of the bill on the Silesian Transformation Fund. "In Bieruń, we are well aware of the consequences of the closure of the mines. We are facing not only a wave of unemployment among miners but also the collapse of many private companies related to the industry", mayor Krystian Grzesica stated. "We put a lot of work to minimize the negative effects and prepare well for the transformation. It is difficult for me to understand that no one wants to use our experience and those important decisions regarding the transformation of our region are made without our participation," added the mayor of Bieruń. Similar emotions accompanied Daria Zawarczyńska-Szłapa, an activist from Mysłowice.

"I cannot imagine that the future of Silesia would be fair and balanced without us- the inhabitants. People who have lived here for generations, who know the realities and ills of cities, related to, inter alia, mining damage. We want to actively participate in this transformation because we have the right to do so," she emphasized.

Conference participants brought a symbolic cheque for funds for Silesia with a red stamp "bounced cheque" to the Plac Sejmu Śląskiego [City Square] in Katowice. "Lack of European funds for transformation or their waste is a real scenario. This will happen if we agree to the next "distribution of seats" and the creation of institutions without representatives of local governments and social organizations from the region. It is a scandal, the more so as there are already institutions in Silesia that have experience in administering European funds", explains Patryk Białas.

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