The rapid closure of coal mines will lead to a jobless rate of up to 50% in some towns in Silesia, Poland’s southern coal region, the chief executive of the country’s biggest coal producer PGG said.

Poland is the only European Union state that has refused to pledge carbon neutrality by 2050, arguing it needs more time and money to shift its economy to clean energy sources.

PGG will gradually close its mines by 2049, according to a deal signed by the government representatives and trade unions. The plan needs more public aid and European Commission approval.

PGG CEO Tomasz Rogala warned that accelerating the process, without investing in alternative jobs in Silesia, would result in a jump in unemployment and depopulation. Rogala said around 7,000 jobs out of 100,000 in Silesia are related to coal mining, while in the EU excluding Poland the proportion is 150 out of 100,000.

“Every second coal-related job in Europe is located in Poland,” Rogala said. “This is why it is so easy to talk about decarbonization in Europe and so difficult in Silesia.” Silesia currently has one of the lowest unemployment rates among Polish regions.