City of Wałbrzych joins PPCA in significant step towards coal phase-out in Poland

Mayor of the Polish City of Wałbrzych, Roman Szełemej and representatives of the UK and Canadian embassies in Poland took part in a signing ceremony today to officially welcome Wałbrzych as a new subnational government member of the Alliance. The city is the fourth Polish member of the PPCA committed to driving the change needed to “consign coal to history”.

City of Wałbrzych joins PPCA in significant step towards coal phase-out in Poland
City of Wałbrzych joins PPCA in significant step towards coal phase-out in Poland

The City of Wałbrzych joined the PPCA with 27 other signatories on Energy Day during COP26 in Glasgow. Today, the city organised a special signing ceremony at Wałbrzych’s Old Mine to introduce the Alliance to representatives of local governments from the Wałbrzych Subregion. Participants discussed future cooperation with the PPCA to achieve its ambitious commitment to phase out coal by 2030 and influence policymaking and the public debate at the national level.

For over 500 years, the city has depended on hard coal for power generation. Since 2019, it has been taking concrete steps towards eliminating coal as a source of heat and energy by 2030. By swapping hard coal for renewable energy sources in its heating plants, modernizing its buildings and replacing hundreds of thousands of hard coal stoves, Wałbrzych aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2040. The energy transition will be accompanied by measures to ensure a just transition with support from the EU Just Transition Fund (JTF).

Mayor of Wałbrzych, Roman Szełemej said:

“We are on the brink of a climate breakdown, but we can still save people and nature from the worst impacts of climate change. Coal power has been the single largest source of the global temperature increase and Poland is one of the most coal-dependant countries in Europe. Now we join the PPCA to move from the coal to clean energy. I represent not only the population and people of Wałbrzych, but also 52 communities located around Wałbrzych in southern part of Lower Silesia. We are convinced that we can reach the goal in 2030.”

The other Polish members of the Alliance include Eastern Wielkopolska and the region’s utility ZE PAK, as well as the City of Koszalin. They encourage other Polish subnational governments to take ambitious coal phase-out commitments, join the PPCA and help accelerate Poland’s energy shift.

Minister-Counsellor for Economic Affairs for UK Embassy to Poland James Hughes said:

“There is no doubt that eliminating coal power generation is crucial in the global effort to keep temperature increases to 1.5 C. The Glasgow Climate Pact provided, for the first time, a global commitment to phase down coal and support a just transition to a clean energy future. Wałbrzych’s pledge to become coal-free by 2030 signals an important step forward for Silesia, and Poland more generally, coming shortly after the Polish government’s own commitment to phase out the use of unabated coal to generate electricity at COP26. It offers proof that, with the support provided by PPCA members, powering past coal is ambitious but fully achievable.”

Canadian Counsellor for the Embassy of Canada in Warsaw Jeanette Sautner said:

“Science tells us that we must act now to avoid the worst impacts of climate change—but for many Canadian and Polish communities such as Walbrzych, climate action is inextricably linked to the home economics of residents, the livelihoods of workers in the energy sector.  This is why it is so important to put people at the heart of climate policy – the approach Walbrzych has taken.  If we approach it the right way, we will create jobs and economic opportunity, while improving health and environmental outcomes.”