Polish approach to climate and energy policy over the last decade has largely failed. The country is likely to miss all of the European Union’s 2020 climate and energy targets. Poland’s official plans for the next decades continue to be out of sync with the EU’s decarbonsation pathways, says a new report from WiseEuropa.
- Last ten years have been a lost decade on climate policy of Poland. With this approach, it is virtually impossible both to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement and to build new competitive advantages for the country.
- Implementing the current government’s strategy would significantly worsen the balance of Poland’s participation in the EU ETS and hinder emissions reduction in non-ETS sectors in the long run.
- If action is not taken early enough, Poland will spend the decades to come among the laggards of European climate policy, incurring the related cost burden and losing subsequent development opportunities in the emerging markets for low-carbon goods and services.
- Meanwhile, achieving a deep GHG emissions reduction or even climate neutrality by 2050 is feasible. It would require a qualitative shift in Poland’s internal policies, going far beyond the scenarios considered in the national public debate. The review of the National Climate and Energy Plans (NECP) by European Commission provides a good opportunity for constructive dialogue on aligning Polish climate policy with European and international frameworks.
The report “A new chapter. Shifting Poland towards net-zero economy” from Warsaw-based independent think tank WiseEuropa presents the current state of play in domestic climate policy, assesses the draft NECP, recently released by the Polish government and outlines the priority actions to shift the Polish economy toward net-zero development pathway.
Based on the assessment of the past experiences and challenges that Poland faces in the near future, Polish think tank WiseEuropa’s experts conclude that the country is likely to miss all of the European Union’s 2020 climate and energy targets. The significant future financial burden for the Polish budget will be related to cash transfers required to offset the shortfall in RES deployment and non-ETS emission reductions – among others.
Poland has already submitted its National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030 (NECPs) – a document that should indicate individual Member States’ contributions to meeting the EU targets, including building a zero-carbon economy by 2050. The draft NECP contains a number of positive sectoral initiatives that support GHG emissions reduction and technological diversification of the national energy system. However, the scale and the pace of changes in key sectors (energy, buildings, transport, industry) envisaged in the document are not enough to bridge the low-carbon transformation gap created over the last decade. In fact, implementing the government’s strategy would make the gap wider: It plans to significantly worsen the balance of Poland’s participation in the EU ETS and hinder emissions reduction in non-ETS sectors in the long run. Given the expected increase in emissions allowances prices, Poland position would become extremely unfavourable – both in terms of economics (high energy price, industry relocation) and the country’s bargaining power within the EU.
“Currently in Poland, the general approach to climate policy lacks strategic thinking. The broader international context is also not given enough attention. The narrow focus on 2030 blurs the scale and pace of changes needed in the upcoming decades. Without abandoning the reactive approach to the global climate objectives, Poland will always fall behind in terms of economic transformation, incurring higher financial, socio-economic and political costs that follow” says Maciej Bukowski, president of WiseEuropa.
The report shows that achieving a deep GHG emissions reduction or even climate neutrality in Poland by 2050 is feasible. It would require a qualitative shift in Poland’s internal policies, going far beyond the scenarios considered in the national public debate. “Accepting that mining is a sunset sector, realising the need to phase out conventional coal-fired power generation in the upcoming 20-30 years, and shifting the debate on the future of electricity generation in Poland to real methods of building a near-zero-carbon energy system by 2050 that would supply even twice as much energy as today” – reads one of the recommendations from the report. Also, complete elimination of fossil fuel heating in buildings is needed. According to the draft NECP, Poland’s much-advertised anti-smog programme fails to deliver GHG cuts after 2030. This suggests shallow thermal modernisation and exchange of heat sources for new coal-fired boilers. “This implies considerable stranded costs and will multiply the total cost of transformation needed by 2050”, WiseEuropa experts write.
“Poland is able to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. However, it will require deep changes in the energy system and the entire economy. European debate on carbon neutrality has not penetrated Polish public discourse nor strategic documents in a sufficient way. By fully exposing the scale of the delays and strategic gaps in the overall thinking about the necessity of the clean transformation, we are pointing to the development challenges lying ahead of Poland and the EU” says Aleksander Śniegocki, Energy and Climate Project Manager at WiseEuropa.