After updating its 2040 energy plan in early September, Warsaw moved last week towards ending its dependence on coal after the Polish government, miners’ unions and the state-owned coal firm, Polish Mining Group (PGG), agreed a plan to phase out mines by 2049.
It was the first time Poland has put a timeline on ending coal and puts the country in line to meet the EU’s climate targets of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, which had previously been rejected by Warsaw as unrealistic. But some industry observers doubt the plan will survive the harsh rigors of hardening EU climate policy, alongside financial constraints.
“There is a general agreement between experts on energy and coal mines that the plan of coal mine phaseout is a fiction,” Ilona Jedrasik, energy team lead at ClientEarth Poland, told DW.
All governments since 1989 have promised to deal with the uncompetitive, environmentally damaging and politically sensitive coal industry and most have failed to see through long-needed restructuring.
But the Law and Justice (PiS)-led government has been forced to shift its position due to the rising costs of emissions permits required within the EU’s cap-and-trade system and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has reduced demand for electricity and exacerbated a long-term structural decline in prices.
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