Greenpeace Say No to Coal at Climate Change Summit, Poland

by Joydeep Gupta

Poznan (Poland), Dec 7. Mossy pine groves and picture postcard lakes give way to huge grey gashes in the earth where giant machines scoop up brown coal and deliver it to the power plant next door. The mine and the power plant were once proud signs of industrial activity. Today they are badges of pollution.

Eleven activists from the international NGO Greenpeace have just spent 48 hours atop a 150-metre chimney of the thermal power plant to draw the attention of the world to the ill effects of coal use.

The 1,800 MW Patnow power plant - about 140 km from this city in western Poland where delegates from around the world have gathered for the Dec 1-12 summit to combat climate change caused in a large part by carbon dioxide emissions from thermal power plants - produces about five percent of Poland's electricity.

In this country, 93 percent of all electricity is produced from coal, 40 percent from the kind of highly polluting brown coal (lignite) used at Patnow and scooped up from huge open pits nearby.

Greenpeace activists put up what they called a "climate rescue station" next to one pit - an inflatable dome where people live on renewable energy produced at the spot.

They are bringing the dome to this city this weekend to draw the attention of the world to the potential of renewable energy.

Power-starved India's plan to bridge the demand-supply gap is almost totally dependent on electricity generation from coal, but Greenpeace activists warned that unchecked emissions from coal-fired plants would create more problems in the long run than they would solve.