On Monday, the European Commission approved five plans for a just climate transition of Polish mining regions. The list does not include the Zgorzelec region, which is home to the Turów mine and power plant. Instead funds will go to Bełchatów where the largest lignite mine in Europe is located.
As much as EUR 3.85 billion in funding will be awarded to five coal regions for redeployment of workers, support for sustainable industry, and adaptation to the EU energy and climate policy.
However, the Zgorzelec region, which officially applied for participation in this budget, did not receive any funds.
– In reality, the local government, the Polish central government, and PGE did nothing to provide a real chance of obtaining this enormous financial support. The Fund's rules are clear about a gradual move away from coal. Yet, these funds will benefit the region of Bełchatów, the seat of the largest coal-fired power plant in Poland and in Europe. It is a shame and a failure on the part of the decision makers that they didn’t seize this opportunity to transform the Turów mine – comments Radosław Gawlik, president of the Ecological Association EKO-UNIA.
The Zgorzelec region could have received over PLN 1 billion from the European Union's Just Transition Fund (EU JTF). The main reason why the Territorial Just Transition Plan was rejected was PGE's failure to provide a schedule for a gradual phase-out of coal in the Turów power plant complex, which in practice disqualified it from the outset on formal grounds.
– Meanwhile, the same PGE company was able to draw up a schedule for the gradual shift away from coal in Bełchatów, and thus obtain a massive injection of EU funds for residents and businesses in the Łódź Voivodeship. In Turów, we have seen from the very beginning a lack of good will coupled with political obstruction on the part of the United Right governing coalition – explains Paweł Pomian, a member of the management board of EKO-UNIA.
The voivodeship authorities and the government are now pretending that nothing significant has happened. At the same time, during the St. Barbara's Day festival at the Turów mine, representatives of the local government and members of parliament from the ruling PiS party handed out honorary badges to trade union activists and to the head of the Lignite Mine KWB Turów, who were involved in defending further coal mining.
(Press release, EKO-UNIA)