Illegal Backyard Coal Mining Surges in Poland as Energy Anxiety Outweighs Health and Climate
The global energy crisis set off by Russia’s war in Ukraine and European reliance on methane gas from Putin’s authoritarian regime has spawned a resurgence in backyard coal mining in Poland, Bloomberg reports.
More than three-quarters of the EU’s coal-heated homes are in Poland, where 37% of families heat their homes with coal, despite its significant health risks (and climate impacts).
Poland also has lots of easily accessible coal, sometimes as shallow as a meter underground and when people are burning garbage to stay warm and unemployment is as high as 12% in former (formerly legal) coal mining areas, “artisanal” (illegal) coal mining pays the bills and keeps houses heated.
In Walbrzych, a four-man team can dig up coal worth 1,000 zloty ($220), more than half an average weekly salary, in just half a day. “We will dig here as long as we will be able to extract coal,” Grzegorz, who refused to give his last name, told Bloomberg. “And then we will dig a new pit.”
For a deeper dive:
For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.
Subscribe to get exclusive updates in our daily newsletter!