ODE “Sources”: Belchatow – the Polish Ruhr Area?

ODE “Sources”: Belchatow – the Polish Ruhr Area?

Bełchatów is facing a great challenge. The region must stop mining coal in a way that does not endanger the interests of its people. The successful transformation of the Ruhr area is proof that a move away from coal can be a driver for development.

How is it with Bełchatów?
It is in Bełchatów that the PGE Górnictwo i Energetyka Konwencjonalna SA concern has its headquarters. The complex generates approx. 22% of electricity in Poland. High greenhouse gas emissions are a side effect – the power plant in Bełchatów in 2005 became the largest carbon dioxide emitter in the European Union for the first time and it is almost continuously (with one exception in 2007). But at the same time, the Bełchatów energy complex is the most important employer in the region – it directly employs almost 8,000 people. people.

Changes are coming
In 2020, PGE announced that it will gradually move away from burning fossil fuels to achieve the so-called climate neutrality. Coal mining in Bełchatów is coming to an end. So there is a huge problem. What to do with thousands of employees? The EU-funded Just Transition Fund is expected to help in this.

“The Just Transition Fund is one of the key tools to support the end of coal mining and combustion in power plants across Europe. Most of the money is to go to Poland, of which to the Bełchatów region – approx. PLN 1.4 billion. The problem is that while funding is already available for some regions, the future is uncertain for three. This is Western Małopolska, the Lublin region and the Bełchatów region. The proposed plans lack, among others details on the shutdown of power units and specific declarations about new jobs, “says Szymon Bujalski, a just transition specialist at the” Źródła “Ecological Action Center, implementing the Bełchatów 2050 project.

Bełchatów must benefit from the experience of the transformation of the Ruhr

A good signpost for the authorities of the Lodzkie Voivodship, as well as for the inhabitants themselves, is the German Ruhr Area, where the transformation process was initially controlled from the top. In the late 1980s and 1990s, however, a more bottom-up approach was introduced. The management of the process has increasingly been transferred to the Länder, regional and municipal authorities. The participation and inclusion of local actors in the transformation was also taken into account. Based on the involvement of the local population, a compromise was worked out with the authorities, the aim of which was the gradual withdrawal of coal, a socially acceptable reduction of personnel and a comprehensive package for injured miners.

Today, the Ruhr is one of the most popular cultural centers in Germany. Three-quarters of all employees work, among others, in services and logistics. The IT and software sector is also extremely developed, which resulted in the creation of many academic centers.

The society of Bełchatów must be aware that if it properly uses its chance, actively participating in the process of just transformation, the Bełchatów region can only benefit. In addition to engaging the public and ensuring adequate financial resources, a key element of the transformation is also ensuring the safety of current employees, who must be given the opportunity to fill future positions. The process of their retraining should continue in the current workplace. The Bełchatów 2050 project, the aim of which is to start and conduct a public discussion on green and fair transformation for the area and employees of the opencast mine, is to help in all of this.

Last Updated on November 8, 2021 by Redakcja