This summer I took the chance to visit Poland on a placement with the EU Low Carbon Pioneers programme. This exchanges people involved in building a low carbon society in their own region with others across Europe. First was a placement about renewable energy in Birmingham, then five weeks abroad.
Poland struggled with rebuilding after World War 2, and then moving on from Communism. An independent environmental movement has only begun to emerge, so the downsides of development are not much discussed. I was shocked to see a Tesco superstore in Wroclaw on what had been allotments. Much coal is burned for winter heat and electricity generation so carbon reduction seems a big ask. However, travelling through Germany I saw wind turbines and solar arrays everywhere, waiting to spread when a feed in tariff for clean power comes to Poland. The project we worked on was an Ecopark. I showed slides of green space in Birmingham, and the Bee Garden idea was picked up.
Eastern Europe can benefit from the experience of our environmental movement. They can also look to their own land and traditions for the future.
Pioneers into Practice is recruiting for 2014 see www.innovationbham.com