Green Deal, not a Grim Deal!
The sudden closure of the Turów mine, which the Czech government is calling for, instead of helping to improve the environment, will lead to a collapse in many terms: social, ecological, financial and energy. It will cause a disaster for the entire Polish region, to which the mine provides essential energy – jobs, money to support families and electricity generated at the power plant. The threat of an overnight closure hanging over the Turów mine is the worst possible scenario for the energy transition.
Is this the European Green Deal, which was intended – above all – to be fair?
The possible closure of the Turów mine threatens Poland with social and economic disaster. Such situations were to be counteracted by EU programmes for the transition of regions whose existence depends on mining and conventional energy. The request for the immediate closure of the Polish mine calls into question the credibility of the assurances of European solidarity and the fairness of the transition, which is necessary but must be carried out in a planned and staged manner.
Depriving thousands of Poles of their livelihood
We appeal for fair treatment of nearly 80 thousand workers and co-workers and their families whose livelihoods depend on the existence of the mine and power plant. The threat of depriving them of their livelihoods in practice means the collapse of the entire region, whose inhabitants have no real prospect of finding other job or alternative sources of income in the short term. Tens of thousands of people in this part of Poland are waiting for a just transition, in line with the European Green Deal. Meanwhile, the request being pushed through by the Czech government is leading to a "wild" transition that deprives local people of any hope of securing any stability in their lives.
The Turów mine is one of the smallest in a region dominated by much larger mines and power plants operating in the Czech Republic and Germany. The Polish mine is surrounded by open pit mines working in neighbouring countries, located just a few dozen kilometres from Turów, and even as close as a few hundred metres from the Polish border. It is difficult to understand why the relatively small Turów mine has become the object of international action by a neighbour who insists on stopping mining, but only on the Polish side of the border.
A threat to the Polish energy system
Closure of the mine means an immediate shutdown of the entire Turów power complex, supplying up to 7% of energy consumed in Poland. Electricity produced in Turów reaches up to 3 million households. The shutdown of mining and electricity production must obviously shake up the Polish energy system, which will not be able to quickly replace the decommissioned generation capacity at Turów. The just transition of the European energy sector was to ensure that the bleak scenarios of a lack of electricity in the system would never come to pass.
Economic collapse of the region
The Turoszów basin has recently provided contracts for nearly 3,000 suppliers and subcontractors of mines and power plants. In the last two years alone, the mining and power generation complex has concluded contracts with external companies – mostly Polish small and medium-sized businesses – worth approx. 5.5 billion PLN. Apart from eliminating the market for thousands of companies operating in Turów's vicinity, the closure of the mine would result in further losses of around PLN 13.5 billion. Preliminary estimates indicate that such an amount would be consumed, among other things, by the necessity to lay off thousands of employees, as well as losses resulting from already enormous expenditures on pro-ecological upgrades carried out in recent years. The vision of decommissioning the mines and thus the power plants actually means wasting years of effort and gigantic investments undertaken to create the possibility of spreading the energy transition over time. This process is undoubtedly necessary, but it cannot take place at any cost, and certainly not at the cost of an irreversible social and economic disaster on the Polish side of the border, which is what the Czech government is aiming for.