Power plant, Krakow, Poland

New report: Poland’s energy future at a crossroads as it trails behind EU peers

A new report by environmental lawyers ClientEarth shows Poland is trailing behind other EU countries in phasing out fossil fuels in favour of renewable energy. Despite an abundance of renewable energy sources, Poland’s dependency on coal is unparalleled in the EU.

The report, released as the country hosts the COP24 climate talks, identifies Poland’s lack of an up-to-date energy strategy as the main barrier to progress and points to the law as a key remedy to cleaner energy alternatives.

The last national energy policy was adopted in 2009 and should have been reviewed in 2013. However, the review process has not yet been completed.

This has caused substantial investment uncertainty in the energy sector.

ClientEarth lawyer Wojciech Kukula said: “Relying on a nine-year-old energy strategy during an era of technological breakthroughs for renewables is, without a doubt, a completely outdated approach.

“Poland is at an energy crossroads. It can either continue to rely heavily on fossil fuels and in doing so, fail to reach the Paris Agreement targets, or it could unlock the untapped potential of renewables and create the biggest opportunity to improve in the EU.”

However, Poland’s energy sector (including both electricity and heat) is still responsible for 50% of the country’s yearly CO2 emissions. The EU average is only 30%.

The report identifies key recommendations for Poland to transition from “coal to clean”, including:

  • Update the country’s energy strategy to explicitly address climate change.
  • Establish a solid and stable national legal framework that fully considers the increasingly important role of renewable technologies.
  • Timely and proper implementation of new EU climate and energy law.
  • Embrace the cheapest available energy options, in particular onshore wind.

ClientEarth underlines that it will be increasingly difficult for Polish politicians to resist global renewable megatrends.

Rapidly falling costs of wind (both offshore and onshore) and solar, as well as increasing prices of emission allowances in the EU Emissions Trading System, are recognised as the main drivers of transitioning to cleaner energy.

The new EU Clean Energy for all Europeans Package is also expected to play a crucial role in speeding up the energy transition in Poland. The Polish government has already publicly backed some particularly progressive parts of the Package, with a focus on empowering people to actively participate in the clean energy transition.

Kukula added: “Polish decision-makers are beginning to wake up to the environmental and economic benefits of investing in renewables. But they continue to adopt the bare minimum of what is strictly required by EU law and push back on more meaningful change.

“With the global climate summit currently taking place in Katowice, Poland, we encourage people to look to the future – and Poland to keep ambition at the heart of energy policy.”

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