Warsaw, Poland – Poland’s path to climate neutrality and zero net emissions is both “affordable and feasible”, a new study by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) shows.
Poland’s climate neutrality is within range, says WWF
Contrary to regular statements made by officials in Warsaw, who claim that the EU’s goal to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 is impossible and unrealistic for Poland without a massive compensation package, the WWF organization claims that Poland “can reach net zero carbon emissions in a socially fair way without massive increases in EU financial support”.
According to the study, whose results were unveiled earlier this month, Poland will have to earmark additional investments of €32-76 billion in its power system to reach that goal.
“If its shifts its spending from coal to renewables, Poland already has significant resources to make these investments”, while “reaching net zero emissions by 2050 will bring Poland direct savings of €55 billion on total energy costs, as well as €200 billion of avoided health and environmental costs”, according to the organization.
In other words, nothing to do with the estimates released by government officials, who recently claimed that Poland needed somewhere in between €700 and €900 billion to fund its energy transition.
Poland shouldn’t use energy transition as ‘bargaining chip’ in EU negotiations
“Rather than using modernization costs as a bargaining chip in EU talks on a climate neutral target, Poland must invest in renewables and social support to coal regions”, Katie Treadwell, energy policy officer at WWF European Policy Office, said.
Earlier this year, Poland vetoed, along with three other Central and Eastern European countries, an EU resolution to target net zero emissions by mid-century.
Officials in Warsaw claim that, given the current state of its energy infrastructure and the need to safeguard its energy security – mainly as regards to Russia – it could only commit to this goal in exchange for a comprehensive financial compensation package to support their transition away from coal and fossil fuels.
“Poland’s transition towards a carbon neutral economy will require significant investments, but in the long run it will result in lower total energy costs and a cleaner and healthier environment”, stressed Oskar Kulik, climate and energy policy officer at WWF Poland. “What we must avoid are lock-ins in fossil fuel technologies”, he further said, including coal power plants, subsidies in the mining sector or investments in gas infrastructure.
Climate change-related costs to skyrocket in next decade
According to the WWF analysis, Poland has invested over three times more into the coal industry (€18.8 billion) than in renewable energies (€5.4 billion) from 2005 to 2016.
The issue of Poland’s reliance on coal has taken center stage in recent months, both at home, where recent polls point to a growing awareness about the health and environmental risks associated with coal despite its highly symbolic nature, and abroad, where Poland’s refusal to budge has strained relations with a number of EU countries eager to move forward with more ambitious plans to tackle climate change.
According to WWF, damages caused by climate change-related extreme weather events should increase from €12 billion between 2001 and 2010, to nearly €50 billion from 2011 to 2030.