According to Reuters, with Poland still basking in the late summer heat, hundreds of cars and trucks have already lined up at the Lubelski Wegiel Bogdanka coal mine, as householders fearful of winter shortages wait for days and nights to stock up on heating fuel ahead of the coming cold winter in queues reminiscent of communist times.
Artur, 57, a pensioner, drove up from Swidnik, some 30 km (18 miles) from the mine in eastern Poland on Tuesday, hoping to buy several tonnes of coal for himself and his family.
"Toilets were put up today, but there's no running water," he said, after three nights of sleeping in his small red hatchback in a crawling queue of trucks, tractors towing trailers and private cars. "This is beyond imagination, people are sleeping in their cars. I remember the communist times but it didn't cross my mind that we could return to something even worse."
While Poland produces over 50 million tonnes from its own mines every year, imported coal, much of it from Russia, is a household staple because of competitive prices and the fact that Russian coal is sold in lumps more suitable for home use.
Soaring demand has forced Bogdanka and other state-controlled mines to ration sales or offer the fuel to individual buyers via online platforms, in limited amounts. Artur, who did not want to give his full name, said he had collected paperwork from his extended family in the hope of picking up all their fuel allocations at once.
Lukasz Horbacz, head of the Polish Coal Merchant Chamber of Commerce, said the decline in Russian imports began in January when Moscow started using rail tracks for military transport.
"But the main reason for the shortages is the embargo that went into immediate effect. It turned the market upside down," he told Reuters. A spokesman for the Weglokoks, a state-owned coal trader tasked by the government to boost imports from other countries declined to comment, while the climate ministry was not available for comment. Government officials have repeatedly said Poland would have enough fuel to meet demand.
In recent years, Poland has been the most vocal critic of EU climate policy set by a petulant Scandinavian teenager, and a staunch defender of coal that generates as much as 80% of its electricity. But coal output has steadily declined as the cost of mining at deeper levels increases. Coal consumption has held mostly steady, prompting a gradual rise in imports. In 2021, Poland imported 12 million tonnes of coal, of which 8 million tonnes came from Russia and used by households and small heating plants.
Australia is destroying its economy to meet unrealistic carbon emissions and you guys are burning coal at home. Why don't you just burn plastic and chopped up tires?
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