Dozens of environmentalists have picketed the site of a former coal mine in Poland that is located near to where a global climate summit is being held.
Polish group Action Democracy said on Sunday that its supporters were protesting Poland’s continued reliance on coal, a particularly dirty fossil fuel.
The summit taking place Dec. 2-14 in Katowice is intended to build on the 2015 Paris climate accord, which set a goal of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century.
Host country Poland still gets most of its electricity from burning coal. The government’s current plans put it far off course from achieving climate neutrality by 2050, a goal scientists say must be reached to prevent catastrophic climate change.
At least 65,000 people marched on the European Union’s headquarters in Belgium to show support for the bloc’s proposed curbs on climate change.
Braving rain and wind, demonstrators thronged the main road in central Brussels where the EU headquarters are located. Police said the peaceful march, held as a global climate conference got underway in Poland on Sunday, was the biggest climate demonstration in Belgium’s history.
The EU has proposed cutting greenhouse gas emissions from member countries to net zero by 2050. Scientists say that target needs to be adopted worldwide to avoid catastrophic global warming.
The EU has traditionally been among the most ambitious climate advocates.
Greenpeace is condemning a court in Slovakia for ordering the continued detention of activists who protested a lignite mining company.
A county court in Prievidza ruled on Sunday that the 12 Greenpeace activists would have to remain in custody until they are put on trial, saying they might continue illegal activity if they are released.
The activists from Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Finland and Belgium were arrested for displaying anti-coal mining banners on a mining tower in Novaky. The Slovakian court’s order came as negotiators from around the world assembled in neighboring Poland for two weeks of talks on curbing climate change.
Greenpeace says the 12 face unfounded criminal charges and could face prison terms of up to five years if they are convicted. It called their detention “unacceptable.”
The governor of Germany’s most populous state says it’s premature to set a firm date for phasing out the use of coal-fired power plants, as environmental campaigners are demanding.
North Rhine-Westphalia state governor Armin Laschet told Germany’s Funke media group that such a move shouldn’t be tied to the global climate conference starting in Katowice, Poland, on Sunday.
German officials had hoped to present a blueprint for the country’s exit from coal at the Dec. 2-14 meeting, but an expert committee postponed issuing its recommendations until next year.
Laschet says Germany’s decision to stop mining and burning lignite coal “must be considered seriously and decided with broad consensus.”
Laschet, whose state has large lignite mines, warned that even if a date for exiting coal is set, it should be reviewed in the 2030s to avoid jeopardizing electricity supplies.
Negotiators from around the world began two weeks of talks on curbing climate change Sunday, three years after sealing a landmark deal in Paris that set a goal of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
Envoys from almost 200 nations gathered in Poland’s southern city of Katowice, a day earlier than originally planned, for the U.N. meeting that’s scheduled to run until Dec. 14.
Ministers and some heads of government are joining in Monday, when host Poland will push for a joint declaration to ensure a “just transition” for fossil fuel industries like coal producers who are facing closures as part of efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The meeting received a boost over the weekend, after 19 major economies at the G-20 summit affirmed their commitment to the 2015 Paris climate accord. The only holdout was the United States, which announced under President Donald Trump that it is withdrawing from the climate pact.