Environmental group Client Earth has launched a legal challenge against operation of a power plant and two mines in central Poland.
The firm says that the liognite-fired Belchatow power plant is the largest single greenhouse gas emitter in Europe and is demanding that its operator – PGE GiEK – shuts it down or takes measures to eliminate its emissions by 2035.
“Belchatow power plant has provided Poland with vital power for decades but times have changed,” said Marcin Stoczkiewicz, Client Earth’s Head of Central and Eastern Europe. “The largest emitters, like Belchatow, must shoulder their share of responsibility for the climate crisis. Without a rapid coal phase-out, the climate fight will be futile.”
Client Earth’s lawsuit leverages Polish civil law in a completely new way, focusing on the environment as a common good, Client Earth says. Marcin said: “This is a first-of-its-kind lawsuit, seeking to hold coal plant operators to account for the direct impact their operations have on the planet and the surrounding environment. To protect the planet we rely on, we need to see a drastic reduction in carbon emissions and we are using litigation to accelerate the process.”
In a second lawsuit, Client Earth is challenging lignite mining operations at Belchatow. The operators want to expand the mining operations, a move which would release tonnes of toxic heavy metals into the soil and water.
Head of ClientEarth Poland’s energy team Ilona Jedrasik said: “The damage this mine would cause, socially and environmentally, cannot be overstated. It is a catastrophe, not just for the thousands of people whose way of life would be bulldozed to make way for it, but for the landmass it will destroy – and all to feed a hugely polluting coal plant. From seismic tremors to chemical leakage, it is extremely hard to see how PGE can justify this project.”