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Polish Gov’t Draws Heat for Embracing Dirty Coal as it Hosts U.N. Climate Summit

StoryNovember 18, 2013
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As it plays host to the U.N. climate summit in Warsaw, the Polish government has released a report saying coal will remain the country’s best energy option up to 2060. The nation is also hosting a parallel coal summit in Warsaw organized by the World Coal Association and Poland’s Economy Ministry. Conference organizers have billed it as “the coal industry’s most important event of the year.” Poland is one of the world’s largest coal producers, fueling more than 88 percent of the country’s electricity. This was on the mind of many residents who came from Warsaw, Krakow and beyond to join in Saturday’s March for Climate and Social Justice. Democracy Now!’s Renée Feltz speaks to them about their climate concerns.

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AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report, as we end with the voices of Poland, Polish activists in the streets on Saturday, interviewed by Democracy Now!’s Renée Feltz.

EWA SUFIN-JACQUEMART: Hi, I’m Ewa Sufin-Jacquemart. I’m the president of the Green Zone Foundation. We are in Warsaw, where is the climate summit, the 19th climate summit going on. And we are here to ask the negotiators to be courageous, to be ambitious, to go very quickly, very, very good, ambitious agreement, to save the planet, to save humanity, to save other species with us, because the climate is the problem of all the world, also of Polish people. It’s not only the problem of Philippines; it’s the problem of Poles, as well.

RENÉE FELTZ: And also the problem of the Philippines.

EWA SUFIN-JACQUEMART: Yes, it’s the problem of Philippines also. It’s a big tragedy in Philippines, but if we continue like that with business as usual, we’ll have these kind of tragedies every year. And we don’t want it. We don’t want the world like this for our children.

DIANA MACIAGA: So, I’m Diana, and I’m representing the campaign, Stop EP, to—a campaign to withdraw from plans to build a new huge coal-fired power plant.

RENÉE FELTZ: Here in Poland? Here in Warsaw?

DIANA MACIAGA: Yes, here in Poland, in the north of Poland, in the Pomerania region.

RENÉE FELTZ: So you’ve been protesting the construction of a new coal plant. And what has the response been so far to your concerns?

DIANA MACIAGA: Well, the campaign has just started. Now we know that—I mean, the construction has not been started yet. So, now we are having a campaign, an action, of sending letters to the investor to ask him to withdraw from this project, because the investor of this power plant is also the chairman of the Green Cross International and a member of Climate Change Task Force, who said a lot of wonderful words of how we should move from fossil fuels to renewables and how we should embrace sustainability. And we ask him to do precisely this, to withdraw from this project and embrace sustainability.

RENÉE FELTZ: Do you know if this new coal plant they’re discussing will use clean coal, coal gasification?

DIANA MACIAGA: Honestly, from my perspective, there is no such thing as a clean coal.

RENÉE FELTZ: Can you elaborate?

DIANA MACIAGA: I mean, this is a fossil fuel. And any kind of fossil fuel emits greenhouse gases. So, if we are serious about climate protection, we cannot pretend that there is such a thing as a clean fossil fuel, because even if modern technology is implemented, it will only prolong the time which we have until we reach the level of greenhouse gases emission that will make our—sorry—that will make our atmosphere be heated to this two degrees that is estimated to be the maximum we can afford, actually. Here in Poland, what we need is a climate protection policy and a policy towards renewable energies. And here, during COP, we need a just and bold agreement on climate protection, not a plans to—not plans to build another coal-fired power plant.

RAFAL KRAWCZYK: I’m Rafal Krawczyk, and I’m from Warsaw. I came here because I saw that today rainbow came over Philippines after the typhoon, so I would like to show a sign of hope for everybody. And that’s the photo.

RENÉE FELTZ: And what brings you out here today to this march to protest? Are you being—are you participating in the climate actions?

RAFAL KRAWCZYK: Well, I am eco-friendly, so to say, but I am now for the first time in the march like this, and I support thinking about climate and thinking about how we influence our environment, how we influence—how—every day, how we do it.

AMY GOODMAN: Some of the Polish activists at the mass rally on Saturday of thousands outside the National Stadium, where the U.N. climate summit is taking place and where Democracy Now! is broadcasting for the rest of the week.

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