Poland holds a most unwelcome European record: it is the EU country with the worst air pollution. This fact has been certified by data from the European Environment Agency (EEA) and is the result of the country’s strong economic and political attachment to coal. In Poland the coalmining community is an important national symbol and the coal industry is a source of direct employment for more than eighty thousand people. Three quarters of the country’s electric energy is still produced based on a development model that elsewhere is considered obsolete.
According to the EEA, this pollution is the cause of fifty thousand deaths each year. Nonetheless, for Poland an alternative based on renewable sources still appears to be some way off. There is one certainty, however, identified following long strikes and negotiations involving the Polish government, unions and the PGE (the state coal company), and that is by the year 2049 the country’s coalmines will have to close forever. For Brussels and environmentalists, however, 2049 is too far away and it is necessary to act much sooner.