The Green War Against Poland

  • Date: 02/02/13
  • Donna Laframboise, No Frakking Consensus

In 1939, Poland was invaded by the Nazis. At the end of World War II, Soviet oppression returned. In the 1980s, there was martial law. And now, in the 21st century, Poland is being besieged by environmentalists.

map courtesy of Wikipedia

A news story published last month in the German magazine, Der Spiegel, exemplifies the current state of affairs. Titled ‘Coal-aholics’: Poland Wages War on Efforts to Save the Climate, it might as well have been written by an environmental activist.

The subtitle claims that “Poland is addicted to coal.” The body of the article quotes a professor who teaches, what else, “courses on sustainability.” According toMichael Labelle, the people of Poland:

are coal-aholics, that’s the best term to use, it’s horrible but it’s true.

Only the over-privileged can be so smug, so disconnected from reality. Labelle – who was born in America and educated in the UK – has perhaps forgotten that coal still produces 42% of America’s electricity. Apparently it has also slipped his mind that both America and Britain became economic powerhouses via coal-poweredindustrial revolutions.

Today, Poland is a poor country wrestling with serious problems. As the World Factbook reports, its

GDP per capita is still much below the EU average…Unemployment has been 2% more than the EU average…[there are] deficiencies in its road and rail infrastructure…

Last October, Habitat for Humanity sponsored a photo exhibit about that country. In its words:

The housing situation in Poland is very unfavorable compared to other European countries…Poles often live in overcrowded houses and many of the buildings are in poor condition. The enormous scale of poverty makes many families unable to meet their housing needs… A coherent vision to satisfy one of the basic human needs, which is to have a safe, decent shelter hasn’t been developed in Poland yet. [backup link]

Other observers note that fully one quarter of Poland’s children are growing up in poverty (see here and here). This is a country, therefore, that is struggling to heal itself. What money it has needs to be spent wisely.

Which is why it makes total sense for Poland’s government to oppose costly European Union carbon emissions measures. The Der Spiegel article describesPoland as “coal-dependent.” Which is about as meaningful as saying that people are food dependent.

As the journalist acknowledges elsewhere in his article, the fact of the matter is that 92% of Poland’s electricity is now produced by burning coal. Short of depriving people of light and heat, it’s impossible to significantly change that in the short term. The financial penalties associated with CO2 emissions are hardly, therefore, hypothetical.

Last month, Poland’s environment minister argued that proposed changes to the European emissions trading system would cost Poland in excess of €1 billion between now and 2020. Der Spiegel quotes him saying “We are already at the limit of what our industry and citizens can pay.”

If you had been elected to govern that country, which would make more sense to you – spending a billion improving the lives of impoverished school kids or handing over that billion to wealthy foreign bankers connected to the fraud-pronecarbon markets?

To hear professor Labelle tell it, though, there isn’t a single good reason for Poland to be hostile to emission reduction programs: “There is a vested interest in maintaining the current power system,” he says.

Ah, yes, anyone who doesn’t behave the way greens think they should gets accused of being a “vested interest” with questionable motives. Except that Der Spiegel tells us that:

much of the energy industry in Poland remains under government control. Though many of the largest energy companies have been ostensibly privatized, the Polish treasury often retains a significant stake.

In other words, energy policy in Poland is strongly influenced by people democratically elected to run that country. Those alleged “vested interests” are, in fact, Poland’s own citizens.

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