Embassy of Finland,
Poland hosted in December 2018 COP24, the United Nations Climate Summit, in the city of Katowice in Silesia, Southern Poland. Selecting Katowice as the location for the venue was symbolic, because the region is known for its heavy industrial base but also for its poor air quality. Out of the 50 most polluted cities in the European Union, more than 30 are in Poland, many of them in Southern Poland. Clean air is a major point of concern for Polish citizens.
The Polish government is therefore facing tough decisions in energy policy, if Poland wants to fulfil the climate goals agreed in Paris and further endorsed in the Katowice Rulebook in December. Poland has the largest coal reserves in Europe and the country is heavily dependent on coal in its energy production. However, many coalmines are out-dated and unprofitable resulting in a lower production capacity and imports of coal from abroad, in particular from Russia. Many power plants powered by coal are coming to the end of their life span. As the coal industry is a strong political lobby, Polish governments have traditionally avoided unpleasant decisions to reduce dependency of coal in energy production.
COP24 is followed by COP25 in Santiago de Chile in December 2019, for which the EU has to agree its common negotiating position. The EU also has to prepare a strategy on how to become carbon neutral by 2050 following the communication by the European Commission in November 2018. Poland has been advocating with its closest EU allies, notably other Visegrad countries Czechia, Hungary and Slovakia, a lower level of ambition for the EU in climate policy. The main argument has been an unfavourable starting point for Central and Eastern European member states in meeting the requirements to reduce CO2 emissions, improving energy efficiency and increasing the share of renewables.
Even in the short term, Poland is likely to miss all the European Union’s 2020 strategy targets in climate action. This would imply a significant financial burden for the Polish budget in the future. Therefore, the Polish government has acknowledged the necessity to take action.
Poland has identified nuclear energy as an important emission free source of electricity in the future.
The Government of Poland published a draft NECP (National Energy & Climate Plan for 2021-2030) in January 2019. Poland aims at reducing the share of coal in energy production from the current 80% down to 60% by 2030 by investing in nuclear energy and renewable energy sources. Poland aims at increasing the share of renewables up to 21% from the current 11%, reduce CO2 emissions by 30% compared with 1990 levels and improve energy efficiency by 2030.
Poland has identified nuclear energy as an important emission free source of electricity in the future. Currently there are no nuclear power plants in Poland, but there are plans to put the first power plant in operation in 2033. By 2043, Poland wants to have six nuclear power plants in operation. However, no decisions on the financing, potential location or the technology to be chosen are made.
Improving energy security and reducing dependency on imported energy especially from Russia is very much a security policy issue for Poland. Currently 78% of natural gas and 96% of oil is imported, mainly from Russia. The aim of the Polish government is to become independent from Russian gas imports by building a gas pipeline from Norway via Denmark to Poland by 2022, expand the LNG terminal in Swinoujscie and improving connectivity with the neighbouring countries. Poland also signed in 2018 a long-term bilateral agreement with the United States on LNG imports. Poland aims at diversifying its oil imports by expanding the oil pipeline between Gdansk and Plock making it possible to increase oil imports by maritime routs.
Poland has been very vocal in criticizing the construction of Nord Stream II gas pipeline from Russia to Germany. Poland sees the pipeline as a direct security threat to Europe and undermining the EU’s energy policy objectives. Poland also sees NS II as an example on how EU rules are applied in a different manner to different EU member states. In addition, Poland has been lobbying the U.S. to impose sanctions on companies involved in the project.
If Poland wants to become entirely emission free economy by 2050, it has to invest more on emission free or low carbon energy production and reduce substantially faster its dependency on coal.
While seeing many positive elements in new strategic plan for 2021-2030, many experts and think tanks have been criticizing the government for the lack of ambition. If Poland wants to become entirely emission free economy by 2050, it has to invest more on emission free or low carbon energy production and reduce substantially faster its dependency on coal.
The Polish vision for energy provides also opportunities for Finland. Fortum has been active in the Polish market and invested recently about 200 million € in a power plant in Zabrze producing heat and power in cogeneration. Finland is also ready to share her best practises in building nuclear energy and management of used nuclear waste. Team Finland Poland has identified clean air as one of the sectors for growth for Finnish business. Welcome to Poland!
Expert article 2512