Greenpeace activists charged over Polish coal protest

Warsaw (AFP) –


Greenpeace activists who blocked a coal delivery in Poland this week risk up to 10 years behind bars after prosecutors pressed charges, the global environmental group and officials said Friday.

"Prosecutors charged 28 people for participating in a peaceful operation," Greenpeace Polska spokeswoman Katarzyna Guzek told AFP.

The activists on Wednesday climbed cranes at the Polish port of Gdansk to block the unloading of coal from Mozambique, calling on the Polish government to move to renewable energy.

They were charged with "trespassing" and "impeding the operation" of important port equipment, Gdansk prosecutors said in a statement.

The charges carry jail terms of up to 10 years, they added.

Guzek called the charges "absurd" and confirmed that all the activists had been released from custody.

The group also attempted on Monday to prevent the Indian Goodwill cargo vessel carrying the coal from Mozambique from docking by blocking it with its iconic Rainbow Warrior ship.

Armed border guards intervened, hauling the Greenpeace boat out of the port and detaining the captain and another activist early on Tuesday.

They released 16 other activists on board after identity checks, and the vessel anchored outside the port.

Greenpeace wants Poland's right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) government to abandon burning coal by 2030 -- the European Union's target date for phasing out coal use.

The PiS plans only a gradual reduction in dependence on coal for electricity production, from around 80 percent today to 60 percent in 2030.

Under the 2015 Paris climate treaty, the EU pledged to reduce its carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Poland along with Hungary have rejected an EU bid for zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, insisting this would hamper their economies.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has pledged to propose a "green deal" for Europe in her first 100 days in office, which would see a carbon-neutral continent by 2050.