Poland adopts 2040 energy 'compass' to navigate away from coal

WARSAW (Reuters) -Poland on Tuesday adopted an energy strategy to 2040, which the climate minister said would provide a compass as the country seeks to navigate away from coal.

FILE PHOTO: General view of Wujek Coal Mine is seen during sunset in Katowice, Poland October 16, 2108. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo

The document has been subject to numerous changes and delays as the government sought to align it with European Union climate policies and fend off opposition from powerful coal unions.

But rising carbon emission costs and the impact of COVID-19 have forced the government to focus on strategic allocation of state funds to kickstart the economy.

The government’s energy policy goals include developing renewable energy sources and nuclear power, although it said it would seek to use its own energy resources, chiefly coal, as long as possible.

Under the plan, the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption will rise to at least 23% by 2030, when the country’s offshore wind capacity is seen at 5.9 gigawatts (GW) compared to zero now.

The government also pledged to start a first nuclear plant with capacity of 1.0-1.6 GW.

Poland gets the bulk of its electricity from carbon-intensive coal and it is the only EU state that has refused to pledge climate neutrality by 2050, saying it needs more time and money to complete the shift to zero emissions.

Instead, the government says Poland will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% in 2030.

Poland’s Climate Minister Michal Kurtyka said on Twitter: “#PEP2040 will be our compass in the transition to a zero-carbon economy”.

Environmental campaigners said that the government’s strategy was inadequate and to prevent further temperature rises, the EU and Poland should stop burning coal before 2030.

“It seems that Minister Kurtyka - although he is responsible for the Ministry of Climate - has forgotten about the droughts, floods or hurricane winds that affect us more and more often due to climate change. The project is also detached from the realities of European politics,” Joanna Flisowska, head of climate and energy at Greenpeace Polska, said.

Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Barbara Lewis