NIKISZOWIEC, Poland (Reuters) – When the Wieczorek mine, one of the oldest coal mines in Poland, closed in March, Grzegorz Chudy noticed for the first time the neighborhood was vibrant with trees in the full bloom of spring. The smell was heady.
“It was incredible. You never knew all those trees were there,” he told Reuters in his art studio in a housing estate for mining families in the southwestern Polish city of Katowice. “The smell wasn’t there while coal was being transported on trucks. The dust covered it up.”
The Wieczorek mine in Katowice, with its towering brick shaft, is among dozens closing down throughout Poland, home to one of the most polluted coal mining regions in Europe. From Sunday, Katowice will host a round of United Nations climate talks, at which nearly 200 countries will attempt to agree rules on how to shift the world economy from fossil fuels to try to curb rising temperatures.
The meeting comes as the World Meteorological Organization warned on Thursday that global temperatures were on course to rise by 3-5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, overshooting a global target of limiting the increase to 2C.
Reaching agreement on how to implement ambitious fossil fuel cuts at the talks could be tough given fears over the impact on industry which have divided the European Union and trade tensions between the United States and China.