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Poland needs ‘between €700 and 900 billion’ to fund energy transition

Warsaw, Poland – Poland’s Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchorzewski claimed earlier this week that it was “a fantasy” to try to reach net zero emissions by 2050, as proposed in the EU’s climate change and energy transition plans.

“Fantasy” to reach zero-emission target by 2050 for Poland

Krzysztof Tchorzewski further argued that Poland would need somewhere in between €700 and 900 billion to fund the transition of the economy towards net zero carbon emissions by the mid-century.

“Of course, these costs would obviously be spread over years”, he was quoted as saying by the state-run Polish Press Agency (PAP). “But I treat it as a fantasy when someone says that Poland is able to reach the zero-emission goal by 2050”.

Poland came under fire in June when it blocked, along with Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia, an EU resolution to target zero emissions in thirty years time. Yesterday, however, Estonia backtracked and instead decided to endorse the EU’s climate neutrality goal, its Prime Minister Jüri Ratas labeling a European green deal as “the EU’s most important strategic goal in the future”.

“We were firmly defending our interests”, said Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at the time. “Poland is one of those countries that must first have a very detailed compensation package [and] know how much we can get for modernization”.

Poland’s coal-reliance under the spotlight as EU debates energy transition

Poland, where 80% of the electricity is still produced from coal, has long argued that, in exchange for committing to that goal, it needed an important compensation package to fund the transition of its economy and energy infrastructure.

Poland’s position has strained relations with other EU member states pushing for a more comprehensive energy plan and more ambitious environmental goals.

“The truth is, there’s one [country] that blocks everything, it’s Poland”, French President Emmanuel Macron recently said, before urging climate protesters to “go protest in Poland”, drawing the ire of officials in Warsaw.

According to the government’s plans, Poland should increase its share of renewable energy in the total energy mix to 21% by 2030, an insufficient level according to analysts.

“Poland wants to catch up with Europe, not to perish. Each percent means a huge cost”, Energy Minister Tchorzewski further stressed.

Energy security vs. climate goals

On Wednesday, Poland’s chief strategic energy adviser Piotr Naimski confirmed that the government had no intention to drop coal any time soon. Talking to the Financial Times, M. Naimski said the the EU’s zero net emissions target was “not possible and not feasible”, and that Poland would continue to prioritize reducing its dependence on Russian energy over meeting the bloc’s emission goals.

Environmental activists are sceptical. “Poland doesn’t have a strategy, it’s the short-term political interest that prevails, the difficult decisions are being postponed”, criticized Marek Jozefiak from Greenpeace.

The NGO recently organized a number of actions to draw attention to this decisive issue and urge the government the review its course of action. Greenpeace activists even blocked a delivery of coal in the port of Gdansk, leading to the arrest of some of them.