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Poland could become climate-neutral by 2056, but it might be as late as 2067

According to the Polish Economic Institute (PEI), Poland could achieve climate neutrality by 2056, in a positive scenario.

Out of the 115 countries covered by the Energy Transition Index 2019 (ETI) prepared by the World Economic Forum (WEF), the European Union Member State most advanced in the energy transition towards a zero-carbon economy was Sweden, whereas the poorest performer was Bulgaria.

Despite significantly differentiated conditions, only three EU Member States have declared achieving early the objective of climate neutrality by 2050: Finland by 2035, Austria by 2040 and Sweden by 2045.

“In the case of both the European Union Member States and non-EU countries, the energy transition leaders having departed from coal – despite considerable contributions from sources such as photovoltaic and wind energy – have stable energy supply independent of weather conditions,” commented Aleksander Szpor, the head of the climate and energy team of the Polish Economic Institute. “Electricity is usually generated by hydroelectric and nuclear power plants. Some countries have gas-fired power plants, characterised by half of the carbon intensity of coal-fired facilities.”

Poland is the only country that has not provided a planned date of achieving decarbonisation. According to PEI’s calculations, an optimistic version suggests that Poland could become climate-neutral by 2056, but it might be as late as 2067 in a negative scenario.

“Due to the natural conditions in Poland, the optimal medium-term choice would be to rely on the last two of the above-mentioned alternatives,” continued Mr Szpor. “In a longer perspective, a desirable scenario would be to gradually replace fossil fuels with offshore wind farms and low-carbon hydrogen.”

Considering socio-economic development indicators, countries such as Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Poland will face a difficult task of achieving the climate neutrality goal. The energy sectors in these countries are much less modernised mostly due to a high share of fossil fuels in the energy mixes, electricity systems characterised by low flexibility and unstable business development conditions in that area.

Ranked 75th, Poland is next to last in the ETI ranking among the EU Member States. The country obtained the highest scores for investing in energy efficiency, access to clean cooking fuels as well as high ranks in terms of investment freedom and logistics performance. On the other hand, Poland is assessed the least favourably in categories such as the share of electricity from coal, electricity system exibility, policy stability for business. and the emission intensity of primary energy.

Nearly half of primary energy in the Polish economy comes from coal, another 28 per cent from oil, 15 per cent from gas, whereas 8 per cent from biofuels and waste. Only 1 per cent of primary energy demand is met by wind and solar energy.

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