Prize Winners Discuss the Environmental Fallout of Coal Production

December 24, 2013

2010 Prize winner Malgorzata Gorska and 1994 Prize winner Heffa Schucking were among the attendees of the UN Climate Talks (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland last month. The main objective on the conference was to set up a framework for a new climate treaty that will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which will expire in 2020.

Much of the conference, however, was overshadowed by Poland’s domestic climate and energy policies. The decision by the host country to also host a clean coal conference — at the same time as the climate talks — sparked outrage among many COP19 attendees.

Poland currently sources 90% of their energy from coal, with no significant plans to move toward renewables on the books. Poland is also currently experiencing an economic boom due to coal production, which many in the environmental community fear will drive the government to ramp up infrastructure and development projects at the expense of the environment.

One of those voicing concern is Malgorzata Gorska, 2010 Prize winner from Poland. Gorska’s leadership in the fight to stop a controversial highway project led to a significant legal precedent for the environment that resulted in the protection of Poland’s Rospuda Valley, one of Europe’s last true wilderness areas. In the video below, Gorska explains how Poland’s wetland are once again being threatened.

1994 Goldman Prize winner Heffa Schucking has been influencing European environmental policies for over two decades. She won the Goldman Prize for her work to expose the link between consumption in industrialized countries in the northern hemisphere and the destruction of tropical forests in the southern hemisphere.

Schucking and her team at Urgewald, an NGO she founded in 1992, recently produced a report entitled “Banking on Coal,” which examines who is financing the recent uptick in coal production worldwide. She explains more on the report in the video below: