Climate Policy Environment 26 June, 2019 10:00 am   

Baca-Pogorzelska: Perhaps we deal with delaying tactic?

Is the balancing of CO2 emissions and absorbtion in the EU in the 2050 perspective possible? And if possible, will not the EU shoot itself in the foot? Or maybe ambitious must be different than anyone else? – wonders Karolina Baca-Pogorzelska, journalist of Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.

I do not like the fact that Poland said in Brussels for starters that climate neutrality in our performance by 2050 is unrealistic. But for a few days I wondered if it was just our “no, because no,” or are there any reasons for this and no other decision.

It is worth recalling that just before the summit, Warsaw received from the European Commission remarks to the draft climate and energy plan submitted a few months ago. Its perspective is 2030. One of Brussels’ main remarks is that it is not ambitious enough, including regarding the share of renewable energy sources (RES) in our energy mix. The government proposed this share in 2030 at the level of 21 percent, stressing that we will not be able to fulfill our commitment which is to reach 15 percent of RES till 2020, while the EC decided that in 2030 we should have a minimum of 25 percent of RES. Please believe me, that these inconspicuous four percentage points is a gap. Of course, you can still hope that the first offshore wind farms in the Baltic will be seen around 2026, but looking at the pace of legislation and constant talk for talking about it, I have more and more doubts. Let me be wrong.

There is a chance for changes in the RES Act, but I would not expect liberalization for windmills at sea. The government is too absorbed in the two-year election year to get down to a difficult topic. And if is lumbered with an unfortunate current law freezing energy prices, with which it cannot cope from December, who would think about RES?

Nevertheless, I must be a devil’s advocate a bit. It is easy to say that in 2050 we will achieve emission neutrality, but it is more difficult to do so. And no, I will not repeat the arguments of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki about how, after the Second World War, we were doomed to coal, etc., because it is completely pointless. But let’s take a look at it from a different angle – if we really want to change something, let’s focus on our intentions. Please remember the UN climate summits, including COP24 in December in Katowice. After all, the weak ones expect help from the stronger. After all, the whole axis of the dispute really comes down to money. Is this not the case in the EU? Ok, Poland is already a developed country, but we are not a leader against the background of the entire EU. France, which criticizes the Polish stand the most, is easy to say. I’m going to bet that if Poland had its own nuclear technology, would it also be the first to talk about leaving coal? Maybe not?

Sure, it does not look good when we say that we need time to change, and instead of introducing them, we are building another big coal blocks, but it’s probably time to end the game on time and answer the question, what’s next. For example, I would like to know if ZE PAK will build an Ościsłowo brown coal mine or not. Will PGE invest in the Złoczew open pit or not? Will we stop forcing the unprofitable coal block in Ostrołęka and maybe we will build a gas station there. Will we do something with the coal from abroad flooding our market including from Russia or not.

I would also like to know if the position of Warsaw is not related to what ArcelorMittal did, for example. The world’s largest steel producer declared that due to what is happening with the inflow of cheap steel from third countries, where there is no climate policy, it will quench part of the furnaces, also in Poland. It is worth recalling here that in May Energy Minister Krzysztof Tchórzewski said that under the implementation of climate policy the European Union should introduce an import tax on the carbon footprint.

I always thought that you should look at yourself first to demand from others and I am glad that the EU wants to be a leader of change, but emitting 11 percent of world CO2 emissions can simply – pardon my french – slaughter itself. I had the opportunity to be in Ukraine recently and see both Mittal’s plants in Krzywy Róg and the DTEK plant in Dnieper. There thinking about the climate is just beginning. Do you know how they were proud of the modernization of the coal block, which considered the assembling of an ESP adapting it to EU standards? And yes, in the Dnieper it was the breaking news.

I just want to say that if we want to achieve zero emissions in 2050, as the EU wants, it is necessary not only to change Poland’s position and to indicate it as the only unruly one, but the change in global thinking and money. Why set goals that are either unrealistic or so expensive that they kill any competitiveness of the community?

The goal is the most correct, but I have the impression that the funds to achieve it insufficient so far.