Just transition in Poland


In Poland, the end of hard coal production, according to Poland’s Energy Policy until 2040 and a social contract, signed by polish government and mining trade unions, is to be reached by 2049. Nonetheless, the staggered decarbonization process raises concerns and resistance from representatives of the mining and related industries. This process affects not only the mining sector but also other industries fate of which is closely linked to mining. From the point of view of mine employees and peri-mining companies the transformation of mining will lead to a significant change of the labor market, and the result will be the emergence of new risks, such as temporary difficulties and reduction in the scale of business conducted by peri-mining companies, reduction of employment, and in some cases even liquidation of peri-mining companies.

The Upper Silesian Coal Basin

Almost all of the polish operating coal mines are located in The Upper Silesia Coal Basin (green colour in the SW part of Fig. 1). Today, Upper Silesia is the last large hard coal mining area in the European Union. Like other european industrial regions in the past, it has to deal with economic, social and environmental problems related to the restructuring of the coal industry. Despite a largest employment decline in the mining industry over the last three decades, more than 74,000 people are still employed in the extraction of Silesian coal. The Silesian Territorial Just Transition Plan foresees the closure of three mines before 2030, which will result in the loss of more than 5,000 direct jobs and about 15,000 indirect jobs.

Fig. 1 Regions under the transition process in Poland (Ślimko, Bartecka and Pogoda, 2021)

Future action

It is necessary to take action aimed not only at the social and economic transformation, but also at reclamation of mining areas and mining facilities. New sectors of the economy in mining and post-mining sites can clearly be based on industrial heritage. One of the priority vision of Silesia’s development, contained in the Zielone Śląskie 2030 strategy, is built around a modern economy,  based on innovation, creativity and knowledge, building on the region’s industrial heritage and traditions which are to be modernised, and assistance in transition.