The Christian Science Monitor

Life after coal: Miners wonder how they fit into a low-carbon future.

The coal mines were what brought Krzysztof Kisiel to Upper Silesia, as this region of southern Poland is known.

“There was no work in my home area,” says Mr. Kisiel, who has gathered at a local tavern with fellow miners – all men – around songbooks and huge mugs of beer in celebration of Barbórka, or St. Barbara’s Feast Day honoring miners. He remembers recruiters coming to his elementary school, promising specialized training, a good job, and a way to avoid the army.

Kisiel and his wife both worked in the Jaworzno mine. His son studied banking but followed his father into the mine when there was no banking work. His son-in-law works there too.

“Mining is a stable profession, and good money, thanks to which they can support their families. And after 25 years of work in a mine they will get a good pension,” says Kisiel. “One day Poland will definitely leave coal, but this is not a problem for now.”

The question of when

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