The EU budget for a just energy transition, i.e. money for, e.g. supporting regions dependant on coal, will launch in 2021. Poland is still drafting its transition plan, but time is running out – writes Wojciech Jakóbik, editor-in-chief at BiznesAlert.pl.
Poland has a plan to have a plan
The National Just Transition Plan (NJTP) has joined a long list of strategic documents, which need to interact with one another, but are yet to be officially approved. Those are the energy strategy (Poland’s Energy Policy by 2040, PEP2040), the Polish Nuclear Power Program (PNPP), the National Plan for Energy and Climate (NPEC) and the Hydrogen Strategy (HS). Poles expressed their plans verbally, but they will be formalized once the documents are adopted. The goal is to use renewable energy sources, nuclear energy and gas (PEP2040, PNPP, NPEC), as well as hydrogen (maintaining technological neutrality is crucial here, HS) to decarbonize the energy sector. This approach is visible in the strategies of state owned companies, which are planning to invest in gas and renewables. Whereas, the PNPP is to invest in nuclear energy and sell 49 percent of its shares to a foreign partner, which will provide the technology. Unfortunately, the documents that detail these plans have not been formally adopted, which gives room for speculation about possible changes. The list of unapproved documents needs one more item – Poland’s energy transition plan, which is necessary for Warsaw to receive subsidies from the Just Transition Fund, which, in case of Poland, may reach over 3 billion euros between 2021 and 2027. Further tranches will be awarded in the subsequent stages of the transition until 2050, when the EU, as a whole, is set to reach climate neutrality.
“To apply for subsidies from the Just Transition Fund, the region needs to have Territorial Just Transition Plans (TJTP),” the Ministry of Development Funds and Regional Policy explained in a commentary for BiznesAlert.pl. “To ensure cohesion and complementarity between the TJTP and other strategic documents on climate and energy policy, including Poland’s Energy Policy by 2040 and the National Plan for Energy and Climate, the Climate Ministry is working on the National Just Transition Plan, which will be a kind of a road map for regions when shaping their TJTPs,” the ministry explained and reminded that it was the Climate Ministry that was responsible for the plan. “Because of the tight schedule, the work is being done simultaneously, in close cooperation with regional authorities. The plan is to finish in the first half of next year,” the Ministry of Development Funds added.
Is it possible then to receive a draft of this document on the basis of the Act on access to public information? “It is impossible because the document is not yet finished,” the Climate Ministry replied to BiznesAlert.pl’s question. “At the current, initial phase of drafting the Plan, this type of information has not been yet formulated,” the ministry stated and added that a process to choose an advisor who will support the preparation of the document is currently in place. According to the Climate Ministry, the National Just Transition Plan should match the NPEC, which had been already submitted to the European Commission in line with the EU draft regulation on the Just Transition Fund.
The upcoming government reshuffle
This means the territorial plans will be prepared after the National Just Transition Plan is adopted. The NJTP is being written in a difficult political climate just before a government reshuffle, which is to be announced at the end of September of beginning of October 2020. The future of the Climate Ministry led by Michał Kurtyka remains unknown. Its critics argue that the ministry will be closed and a new one will take over the supervision over energy and climate legislation, once the loot after the reshuffle is split. On the other hand, its defenders claim that the Climate Ministry will not only survive, but also receive new competencies.
All of this means that yet another strategic document is being outlined during a politically unstable period. Hence, its adoption may be delayed, similarly to the Energy Strategy and other strategic documents. Whereas in order to efficiently spend EU subsidies on energy transition, the recipient must present a National Energy Transition Plan and there are no exceptions. In the past, Poles were successful at using EU cohesion funds and other schemes to modernize their country. The energy transition money should not be an exception. However, to use the money efficiently we need to know how we want to spend it. Today we don’t. The document is in progress, but the upcoming government reshuffle will probably not accelerate the drafting process.