Wildfires ravage the wilderness. Droughts, intermittently broken by sudden floods, kill crops before they can fully develop. This apocalyptic scene could be something out of a dystopian sci-fi novel. However, this is reality: Poland is already suffering these effects, which many of its people attribute to the worsening climate crisis.
On Thursday, three suits were filed with regional courts in Poland, with the people of the country seeking to confront their government over their alleged refusal to address the climate crisis. According to reporting from Euronews, the suits allege that the Polish government hasn’t done enough to curb emissions or encourage industry in the country to engage in renewable energy and green practices.
The lawsuits haven’t just been filed by disorganized activist groups. The three suits filed Thursday, along with two more that will be filed later this month, have been assisted by some heavyweight organizations. The first is ClientEarth, a charity group that helps climate activists take polluters and governments to court. The other is Gessel, a major Polish law firm, who is helping to lend some gravity to the proceedings and offering up some of the country’s best lawyers.
The five suits are being filed by private citizens who claim to have been directly impacted by the climate crisis. The claims are all calling on the government to cut the country’s greenhouse emissions by at least sixty percent by 2030. The language of the lawsuits is similar to findings last month in The Hauge regarding the Shell Corporation.
Poland is notable among EU members for its allegedly regressive climate policy. Much of the country’s electricity is generated by coal, a fuel that scientists insist is one of the most damaging to the climate. In addition to this, the country’s government heavily subsidizes fossil fuels, a rarity among EU members in the modern era.
This situation has set up a showdown with Brussels, as Poland has affirmed its position that it will continue mining coal until at least 2049. Meanwhile, the rest of the continent plans to have stopped burning coal for electricity by 2029, switching to other forms of energy.
The situation is a microcosm of the struggle that climate activists face in trying to get the situation under control. Many energy companies and governments have refused to commit to hard dates for when they’ll pivot away from fossil fuels, due largely to economic concerns. Ecological activists, meanwhile, claim that the financial impact of continued climate change will be much more devastating than the costs of switching to renewable energy sources.