Polish climate minister calls for “just” energy transformation

The transformation of the Polish energy system is inevitable, but it must be done in a “just” way, Poland’s new minister of climate said in an interview published on Monday.

“The creation of a Ministry of Climate is evidence of the priorities of the new Polish government,” Michal Kurtyka said in an interview with Polish business portal wnp.pl, as the UN climate change conference kicked off Monday in Madrid, Spain.

“A civilizational change is happening when it comes to how we use the resources of the Earth. It is time to think about how to change our way of life. At the same time, Poland must fight for its own interests on the issue of climate neutrality on the international and EU arenas,” Kurtyka added.

He said Poland needed to change not only its energy system, but also transport, housing, production and consumption.

“There is no single recipe for all countries to achieve climate neutrality,” Kurtyka said. “The scale of the challenge will be different for various EU countries and it will be greater for those with a lower GDP.”

The creation of a Ministry of Climate in November was the most significant novelty of Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s new government after the ruling Law and Justice Party won the general elections on Oct. 13.

In the past, Poland has often blocked attempts by the EU to set more ambitious climate targets for the entire bloc. Most recently, Warsaw blocked a 2050 zero-carbon goal for the EU earlier in 2019.

Morawiecki has made it clear that Poland’s approval of the EU-wide 2050 target was conditional on EU’s financial support to implement Warsaw’s energy transition away from coal.

In October, Polish Minister of Energy Krzysztof Tchorzewski had said that Poland alone needs up to 900 billion euros(990 U.S. dollars) to switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy over the next decades. The Ministry of Energy has been dissolved in the new Morawiecki government.

Poland is still largely dependent on coal for producing electricity.

The new European Commission has an agenda of fighting the climate crisis, and Brussels institutions are mostly backing a so-called Just Transition Fund to support the continent’s coal regions in their transition away from fossil fuels.

But the fund is so far much smaller than Poland’s self-identified financial needs to support the move away from coal.