GB No. 3(14)/94
The Green Federation is a network of groups spread throughout Poland that are interested in implementing principles of sustainable development, peace, and direct, participatory democracy. The Green Federation is a movement and doesn't have a hierarchical structure. Last year several GF groups organized bicycle demonstrations (in Szczecin, Kraków, and ŁódĽ), while others organized actions against waste incinerators (in Mielec and Wrocław) or fought for animal rights.
This year's Green Federation Congress took place August 27-30 in Trzy Morgi near Piotrkow Trybunalski. The Congress is an annual meeting of people active in the Green Federation. The purpose of the Congress is to make decisions and to develop stand-points which become the basis for future GF activities.
The VII Green Federation Congress believes that the public has the full right to be informed about environmental pollution and its sources. This right should have priority over any other regulations, including the one about capital and trade secrets.
Under current political-economic systems, we are threatened by uncontrolled global population growth which is going to accelerate the degradation of the natural environment. The high birthrate and its consequences -- the rapid destruction of life on Earth -- can be stopped by fighting poverty and introducing birth control. This should be based on promoting contraceptives and educating people about the threats which stem from excessive population growth.
Still, we believe that one of the ways to stop uncontrolled population growth is also abortion. Abortion should be used only when other methods prove ineffective. And nobody should be forced to have an abortion.
With every month, the production of waste in Poland increases. Most of it is no longer reused or recycled. The main cause of the problem is the large amount of single-use packaging coming from the West as well as a lack of environmental education in primary schools, in the community at large, and within the government itself.
The VII Green Federation Congress believes that the best way to reduce waste is to make the producers of items of single-use packaging (packaging that is not and cannot be reused, such as tetrapacks and plastic bottles) pay extra taxes. The taxes on packaging should be equal to the external costs the packaging creates: the costs of storing the waste produced, the costs of environmentally-friendly recycling, and the value of damages caused to the environment.
The Green Federation is going to cooperate with local authorities to implement and enforce systems of segregation and recycling of waste. We will make the authorities actively support firms which purchase recycled materials, companies which employ the unemployed to work on recycling or reusing waste, and also stores selling things in environmentally-friendly returnable packaging. We will also try to make the government restore tax breaks for producers who use recycled materials.
We will strongly object to the building and exploitation of waste incinerators. Incinerators are a good way for producers of single-use packaging to get rid of their waste at the community's expense. Waste incinerators have very high external costs (environmental and typically economic). They are a good example of the breaking of the principle according to Polish law that polluters should pay for damages to the environment. Since incinerators require a lot of waste, they make the realization of waste reduction and recycling programs impossible.
The Congress also drafted letters:
Concerning the shape of the Polish Constitution as the principal act of the law of the Republic, we insist that it guarantee freedom of speech, opinion, and religion.
In relation to this we propose abolishing the article concerning obligatory military service, which is a violation of the right to freedom.
Leaving both the article which guarantees freedom of opinion and the article of obligatory military service in the new constitution will cause a significant internal contradiction in the most important act of the law of the Republic.
For quite a long time the media has been presenting information about the plan to build new highways and fast roads in Poland. The debate on this subject is very limited and it doesn't touch on the most important issues. The decisions about buiding the highways are made by officials. The community has no influence on these decisions, and it is also deprived of any information about the effects the highways are going to have on the economy and the environment.
Building highways is said to be a pro-environmental initiative which creates jobs and improves economic development. The basic arguments against this point of view are always omitted.
We believe that investing a great deal of money in an undertaking which has irreversible effects on the environment and is doubtful from an economic point of view should be discussed by the public.
The VII Green Federation Congress calls into question the reasonability of building highways and fast roads in Poland. We think that money designated for building highways should be used instead for a radical restoration and modernization of railway transport, containerization of cargo-trains, and improvement and integration of municipal and suburban public transportation systems. Ring roads should be created around many Polish cities.
The VII Green Federation Congress believes that instead of building highways and high-speed roads, the number of holes and uneven patches in already existing Polish roads should be reduced.
Green Federation -- Warsaw
tel. 48/ 2/ 633 28 52
Green Federation -- Krakow Group
Foundation for the Support of Ecological Initiatives
ul. Sławkowska 12
tel. 48/12/ 22 21 47 ext 10, 48/12/ 22 22 64
fax 48/12/ 22 22 64
A Note on Demographics
The latest, i.e. from 1992, demographic report says that in the years 1990-2010 the growth of the population at reproductive age in Europe will reach the figure of 6.5 million people, of which 54% -- that is 3.5 million people -- is Poland's share. Please be aware of the fact that 3.5 million people will begin to look for jobs in a country in which the unemployment is already 3 million high. How, then, do our demographers -- fortunately not all of them -- propose to solve this problem? One member of the Government Population Commission (Rządowa Komisja Ludno¶ciowa) argues that there is no problem. The borders are open and people can emigrate, say to Germany, where by then the shortage in the work force will be approximately 4 million people (due to adverse population growth in Germany). We already know what kind of immigration restrictions have been introduced by the German government. Besides, a question should be asked: Can a state which perceives the future of its citizens in emigration from it be considered a good state?
Dr. Eng. Wacław Janusz
The symposium "Ecology and Politics", organised by the Association of Polish Town-Planners (Towarzystwo Urbanistów Polskich), was held in Wrocław in May of 1993. The above text was published among other conference materials (part II, page 49).
The Parliamentary Constitution Commission established to create the new Polish constitution has solicited proposals from the people of Poland. Citizens or organizations were invited to submit their own versions of the constitution as they would like to see it. A draft accompanied by 500,000 signatures would be considered by the Commission when deciding upon the draft to be presented to Parliament for a vote. Eventually, Polish citizens will vote "yes" or "no" on the final version approved by Parliament, and it will go into effect with a positive response of more than 50%.
Polish environmental groups banded together to prepare their proposal and to collect signatures. They decided to prepare only a section rather than a full constitution. Their proposal was supported by the Presidential Environmental Advisory Board, and by at least one member of Parliament from every party. By the September 30 deadline, they had collected only about 25,000 signatures. However, Mr. Kwa¶niewski, the President of the Commission, answered the letter from the Environmental Advisory Board saying that the Commission will still consider the environmentalists' proposal. Environmentalists will continue to collect signatures merely as a way of raising public awareness.
The environmentalists' proposal is as follows:
Proposed Constitutional Act
The Republic of Poland declares itself in favour of the joint responsibility of countries for the creation of appropriate conditions for living on the Earth.
The Republic of Poland is a democratic state of law aiming for constant and balanced development.
For more information contact:
The Social Committee "Ecology in the Constitution"
Al. Zieleniecka 6/8, 03-727 Warszawa