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ClientEarth Communications

19th April 2023

Rule of law

Why Poland needs a climate law

What is Poland doing to combat climate change?

The climate crisis is being felt everywhere across Europe. Poland is experiencing longer-lasting droughts, sudden heavy rainfalls and storms. These changing weather patterns, worsened by climate change, are also increasing the risk of wildfires, crop failures and also worsen water quality.

That’s why we launched a series of lawsuits in 2021 to protect Polish people who are already experiencing all the impacts of climate change.

But the Polish government is not doing enough to tackle climate change. 

Poland has long been labelled a climate laggard in the EU – it remains the only EU Member State not to commit to reaching climate neutrality by 2050. It is currently ranked near the bottom of international rankings on climate effort.

Poland relies heavily on the most climate-damaging fossil fuel – with more than 70% of its power coming from coal. The Polish Government foresees coal mining continuing until 2049 – despite scientists warning that coal needs to be urgently phased out. 

Why does Poland need a climate law?

Poland doesn’t have the right set of goals to fight the climate crisis.

The head of our Polish office, Zuzanna Rudzińska-Bluszcz, said: “Alarmingly, Poland doesn’t have a legally-binding plan to tackle climate change – one of the most pressing issues of our time. It’s seriously lagging behind other countries when it comes to climate action.”

Poland has yet to adopt its own climate law – unlike other countries in the EU such as Hungary, France and Spain. Other EU countries such as Slovakia are also in the process of developing such laws.

We think it’s a massive blind spot – so we’ve put together a draft law that needs to serve as a serious wake-up call to finally spur the Government to action.

What would a climate law include?

Our draft follows what’s been done in other countries. It’s a framework that leaves room to those in power to determine the path to climate neutrality. It’s also technology-neutral. And crucially, it introduces strong control mechanisms to make sure what the law sets out to achieve is implemented. 

Some of the measures in the draft law include: 

  • Setting a legally-binding target for Poland to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest 
  • Earmarking at least 1% of GDP a year to climate protection 
  • Introducing an obligation to check whether large investments harm the climate 
  • Establishing an independent statutory body to provide science-based advice to the government on climate policy, similar to the UK’s Climate Change Committee
  • Recognising the right to a safe climate including the right to be protected from the effects of adverse climate change, as well as the right to require public authorities to comply with their legal obligations relating to climate protection.

These measures will not only help Poland reduce its climate-harming emissions, they will also help deliver lower electricity bills and good-paying jobs. 

There’s broad support for more climate action in Poland – polling figures we commissioned found that almost 70% of Poles support the introduction of stronger legal climate measures .

Marcin Stoczkiewicz, ClientEarth lawyer who led the drafting of the law, added: “The adoption of these measures will enable Poland to pursue a comprehensive and cohesive climate policy and achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest.”

More information about the draft and the public debate we have initiated in Poland can be found on the website of our Warsaw Office here (in Polish).