Poland Drafts 'Empty Words' About Coal Exit
Poland has invited heads of state to adopt a declaration calling for a fair deal for coal workers and communities affected by the energy transition, without having any plans of its own for such a transition, said environmental group CEE Bankwatch Network Dec.1 as the COP-24 UN climate summit was due to start in Katowice, southern Poland.
“The declaration is therefore nothing more than a mirage,” it said, arguing the Polish ruling party’s position is “over-reliance on coal for decades to come.” Days before COP24 started, Warsaw unveiled its new draft energy strategy to 2040 which provides that Poland will still produce 60% of its energy from coal in 2030 and plans a phase-out of onshore wind power by 2035.
"As world leaders sign the Silesia Declaration on Solidarity and Just Transition in Katowice, they should insist that Poland, which proposed this declaration in the first place, now take it seriously," said Izabela Zygmunt, Bankwatch's national coordinator for Poland. It contrasted Poland's position with recent policies from: Hungary which has said its preferred coal phase-out date is now 2030, Slovakia which plans an earlier than expected end to coal mining subsidies in 2023, and Czech Republic which is helping its three coal mining regions develop away from coal. An initial draft of the proposed Declaration is available here. The International Trade Union Confederation meanwhile offered support for the Polish government text.
German gas industry association Zukunft Erdgas December 3 said it was “high time finally to release the handbrake on climate protection measures.” Thanks to some 30 gigawatts of installed gas-fired generation capacity in Germany, "it is possible to start exiting from brown coal generation quickly without any risks for security of power supplies,” it said
"We are currently mortgaging our future and therefore need to take every opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions quickly. Switching from lignite [brown coal] to gas has a very big effect on that, and at the end of the day every ton of CO2 saved counts,” said the association’s CEO Timm Kehler.
"So far, German policy does not disclose a stringent strategy for an effective and affordable CO2 reduction path. The climate target for 2020 has been missed and also Germany's Coal Commission can show no results yet. Katowice therefore must be a wake-up call for Berlin to finally translate the contents of the Paris Agreement into effective action," he added.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) meanwhile said Dec.3 that, out of the ten most polluting coal power plants in Europe, seven are in the Western Balkans.
As many countries in that region - comprising Albania, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia - have substantial reserves of cheap coal – mainly the most polluting form, lignite – plans for new coal-fired plants are under serious consideration or preparation in many places. That would be a serious mistake both in terms of environmental impact but also economically, the EBRD argues in a new paper published Dec.3 entitled: 'How can the Western Balkans electricity mix be made sustainable?'