High-level debates in Poland over how to handle global warming

World Today

High-level debates over how to tackle climate change in Poland as world leaders and senior officials are trying to reach agreements by the end of the week at the United Nations’ “COP”-24 meeting

CGTN’s Stefan de Vries reports.

Follow Stefan de Vries on Twitter @stefandevries

Katowice is the capital of the coal mining industry in Poland. Its hardly breathable air causes a lot of health issues.

“It means that every people in Katowice inhale from 1700 to up to 2500 cigarettes a year,” said climate activist Patryk Bia.

Not the most logical place to host this year’s Climate Conference – but the city is working hard to become greener.

“Coal is going to be present for some time, but we are considering clean ways of using it, if we have to use it,” said Marcin Krupa, the Mayor of Katowice.

Coal is crucial to Poland’s economy. Many jobs depend on it. In Communist times, coal miners were very privileged. But those times have long gone.

“To be honest, it’s tough to be a miner today, because it’s not what it used to be,” said Przemys aw Cieńcia, a coal miner. “There is a lot of pressure from the EU to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.”

“To transform the economy from fossil fuels to renewable energy requires a lot of investments, so that’s a choice that’s not particularly popular with politicians. And it’s therefore the citizens who take the most initiatives to make their region cleaner.”

“Citizens are doing much more than the local government,” Bia. “We are training children in kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. Because in my opinion children are the best advocates of clean air and climate policy.”

A view shared by the host city’s mayor.

“I have always been an optimist. We cannot look at here and now,” Krupa said. “We have to look towards the future, because what we are doing today will serve future generations. And this is the most important thing.”