Poland could achieve climate neutrality by 2050, opposition says

WARSAW (Reuters) - Poland could cut its net emissions of greenhouse gases to zero by 2050 or earlier, achieving the major goal of the European Commission’s Green Deal, the presidential candidate of the biggest opposition party said on Wednesday.

Poland, heavily reliant on coal-fueled power stations for its energy, is the only member state in the 27-nation European Union not to have pledged to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The ruling nationalist Law and Justice party (PiS) says it needs more time to manage the shift to cleaner forms of energy. Poland’s coal mining industry employs aruond 83,000 people.

“We should be in the Green Deal and not stand aside,” Malgorzata Kidawa-Blonska said during a debate on climate among presidential candidates organised by private radio RMF.

Kidawa-Blonska is the presidential candidate of Civic Platform (PO), the centrist main opposition party. Opinion polls currently put her in second place, behind the incumbent, Andrzej Duda, a PiS ally.

“We should start the coal phase-out right now. The Green Deal is a tool which could lead us through a smart energy transformation to achieve climate neutrality by 2050,” she said.

Duda did not take part in Wednesday’s debate.

Poland is scheduled to hold its presidential election on May 10, but the coronavirus pandemic has raised doubts over whether it can go ahead. PiS wants to hold the election by postal ballot but its junior partner in government and opposition parties favour delaying the election.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; Editing by Gareth Jones