Poland Pushes Coal on Europe as Putin Wields Gas Weapon
Comment of the Day

April 24 2014

Commentary by David Fuller

Poland Pushes Coal on Europe as Putin Wields Gas Weapon

Here is the opening of this informative article from Bloomberg:

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk says the country’s giant coal fields should become a cornerstone in Europe’s defense against a newly aggressive Russia.

Because the fossil fuel supplies 90 percent of Poland’s power it has less need of Russian natural gas than other Eastern European nations, burning half as much per capita as the neighboring Czech Republic, for example. As politicians wrestle with how to respond to the crisis in Ukraine, Tusk argues Europe needs to “rehabilitate” coal’s dirty image and use it to break Russia’s grip on energy supply.

“In the context of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the overriding objective is to lessen the dependence on Russia,” said Mujtaba Rahman, an analyst at Eurasia Group in London. “Climate objectives will be absolutely secondary to that.”

At Belchatow in central Poland, where Europe’s largest mine produces more than twice as much coal as the whole of the U.K., visitors stand on an observation platform looking into a 310 meter-deep pit that supplies the giant power station visible on the horizon. On a recent April afternoon, the entire junior Polish national soccer team arrived for a look.

Poland burns over 50 million tons of coal a year, more than any European nation other than Germany, while having the lowest reliance on natural gas among the EU’s 10 largest economies, according to International Energy Agency data. That’s a popular position in a nation where Soviet troops were stationed for four decades until the early 1990s.

David Fuller's view

Climate change alarmists will be horrified but hopefully their long-term forecasts are no better than the poor track record that most people can recall for such predictions.  Of course we want to reduce pollution and the accelerating rate of technological innovation will be the key to these future developments.

However, before the global economy has recovered from the credit crisis slump, governments which do not prioritise GDP growth and employment, where possible, will do their populations no favours and understandably not stay in power for very long.  Poland is one of the more successful Eastern European economies, helped by its near self sufficiency in energy, and this is reflected by its stock market.  

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