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Silesia, Poland

Region: Silesia
Country: Poland
Leader: IGSMiE PAN

About the case study

The case study covers Silesia which is Poland’s main hard coal mining region and the largest hard coal mining area in the European Union. Currently 19 out of 20 coal mines operating in Poland are located in this coal territory, which account for approximately 85% of the domestic hard coal production, including 100% coking coal. There are 4 large coal-fired power plants and 3 large coal-fired heat and power plants. In spite of coal mining Silesia is dominated by the metallurgical industry and is related to the steel and aluminium industries. In recent years, the Silesia Province has been the largest hard coal consumer in Poland. The use of hard coal has a negative impact on the air quality in the region. The Silesia Province is ranked first in the amount of methane produced (91% of national emissions) and second in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide produced (16.8% of national emissions).

The main objective of the Silesian case study was to answer the question of what are the main socio-economic, socio-technical, socio-ecological, sociocultural, sociopolitical, socio-psychological and gender-related challenges facing coal and coal-intensive regions in transition, what are the most effective strategies to deal with them, and what policy or policy mix would be most appropriate to regain the bonds of territory and communities in coal and coal-intensive regions, while supporting their transition towards clean energy. To answer these questions, we undertook several parallel research strategies. We collected relevant socio-economic data from national sources, Eurostat and regional entities. We also explored ‘strain situations’ through a focus group with eight local stakeholders. The socio-psychological component was investigated through a questionnaire completed by 224 regional residents. The socio-political component was explored through text analysis in several types of sources. The socio-ecological and technical component, focusing on the region’s capacity for transformation, was explored through mixed quantitative-qualitative interviews with six stakeholders.

The main findings / results so far are the following:

  • Mining restructuring and the closure of further mines have also had an impact on the socio-cultural dimension of the territory’s functioning. As a result of the disinvestment in the mining sector and related sectors, the status of the mining professions has been significantly devalued, resulting in the increased depopulation process (emigration).
  • Profound changes are also affecting the cultural and identity aspect of CCT inhabitants. For decades, work in the mines has been a very important part of local identity, shaping both the work ethos and other elements of culture, as well as determining the structure of the Silesian family and the social roles assigned to men and women.
  • The significant degradation of the status of workers in the mining sector and the progressive disinvestment in the mining sector is reflected in the results obtained in the survey on the socio-psychological consequences of the energy transition.
  • Katowice Sub-region has relatively little scope to influence the direction and dynamics of change associated with the coal phase-out. Decisions in this regard are taken at national and international levels within the EU structures. At the same time, the local government is heavily burdened with the need to mitigate the negative effects of the energy transition.

Local support

The following 4 local organisations have agreed to support the research activities in Silesia: Metropolis GZM, Polish Mining Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GIPH), Coal-Basin Division of Association of the Polish Electrical Engineers and the Polish Committee of the World Energy Council.


Access the full case study here.