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Poland to protect coal jobs

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World Coal,

At a climate conference in Katowice (Poland) on 9 August, Polish trade union leaders and government officials expressed that nations should protect industrial jobs, as well as be awarded the freedom to choose individual approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Conference participants noted that developing economies should not be required to cut jobs.

Grzegorz Tobiszowski, Deputy Energy Minister, stated: “Those member countries in Europe that have a chance for a modern development and for modern industry, they should get support, on the condition it really is modern industry that will preserve the region's jobs.”

Poland has cut more than 300 000 coal mining jobs since 1990 – it currently totals at approximately 83 000. Additionally, the country has reduced its coal extraction, from 147 million t to around 65 million t. Yet, the coal industry is still a major employer for Poland. As such, consecutive governments have sworn it will be protected, while making it cleaner and more environmentally friendly.

Reportedly, a spokesperson for OPZZ noted: “We do agree that if the planet is dead, the discussion about decent work and international labour standards will be pointless. At the same time, given that the Polish economy is largely dependent on coal, the shift towards the ‘green economy’ will have monumental consequences for the citizens, employees and their families, including at existential level. Polish employees need to receive firm assurances that any changes in that area will not impact negatively on their employment and overall standard of life.”

The meeting is aimed at influencing the UN climate summit COP24, which will take place in Katowice in December.

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