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Poland’s New Government Sets Coal Phase-Out Date

Poland has announced plans to end its reliance on the fossil fuels by a certain date.

by Victor Adetimilehin

Poland, one of the most coal-dependent countries in Europe, has announced plans to end its reliance on fossil fuels by a certain date. The move marks a major shift in the country’s climate policy and a sign of its commitment to the European Union’s green agenda.


A New Era for Poland

Poland has long been a laggard in the EU’s efforts to fight climate change, often opposing or delaying measures that would affect its coal industry. Coal accounts for about 70% of the country’s electricity generation, the highest share in the bloc. It also contributes to Poland’s poor air quality, which causes thousands of premature deaths every year.

But the October 2023 election brought a new government to power, led by the Civic Platform party, which has pledged to increase environmental action and align with the EU’s climate goals. 

“Only with an end date we can plan and only with an end date industry can plan, people can plan. So yes, absolutely, we will be looking to set an end date,” Urszula Zielinska, the Secretary of State for Climate, told reporters in Brussels on Monday.

Zielinska, who was appointed in December, did not specify what the target date would be but said it would be based on a “realistic and ambitious” assessment of the country’s energy transition. She also said the government would review Poland’s climate and energy plans, and ensure that the workers and industries affected by the coal phase-out would receive adequate support and opportunities.


A Challenge and an Opportunity

Poland’s decision to set a coal phase-out date is a significant step for the EU, which aims to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. To achieve this, the bloc has agreed to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by at least 90% by 2040, compared to 1990 levels.

However, the EU’s climate ambition also poses a challenge for Poland, which faces a complex and costly transition from its coal-dominated energy system. According to a report by the International Energy Agency, Poland would need to invest about $330 billion by 2050 to decarbonize its power sector, while ensuring energy security and affordability. 

To help Poland and other coal-reliant countries, the EU has created a €17.5 billion fund, called the Just Transition Mechanism, to support their green transformation and foster social cohesion. Poland is expected to receive the largest share of the fund, about €8 billion, which it can use to finance projects such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, clean transport, and reskilling of workers.

Zielinska said Poland was ready to embrace the EU’s climate targets and to cooperate with its partners on the green transition. She also said Poland would seek to ensure that the transition was fair and inclusive and that it would not leave anyone behind.

“We are looking at this as an opportunity, not as a threat,” she said.

Poland’s announcement to set a coal phase-out date is welcome news for the global climate movement, which has been urging all countries to end their dependence on fossil fuels and to switch to clean energy sources. According to the United Nations, coal is the single biggest contributor to global warming, responsible for about 40% of the world’s CO2 emissions. The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has called on all OECD countries to phase out coal by 2030, and the rest of the world by 2040.

By setting a coal phase-out date, Poland is joining a growing number of countries that have committed to end their use of the most polluting fossil fuel. 


Source: Reuters 

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