Having come under a great deal of pressure from its European partners over its carbon emissions, the Polish government has succeeded in agreeing a shutdown date with unions.
The 2049 date has failed to satisfy critics; Aleksandra Gawlikowska-Fyk, an analyst at Forum Energii, told Climate Home News: “For the first time Poland has a date for coal withdrawal. At least it’s a starting point for negotiations. But 2049 is far too late. Everybody knows there won’t be place for coal in 2049.”
Significantly, the EU’s target date for climate neutrality is 2050, one year after the date agreed in Katowice on Friday.
Polish coal generates three-quarters of the country’s electricity and reduces dependence on imported Russian oil and gas.
The government has promised to seek permission from the European Commission to provide state aid “for financing current production, in order to ensure the stability of the hard coal mining companies.”
Coal-mining operates at a loss but provides 40,000 jobs.
Tomasz Chruszczow, a climate activist, told CHN that the deal with the unions was “historic” and the timing for phase-out “realistic”.
“It’s a very important psychological step forward. It changes the tone of the discussion. The devil is in the details and I’m sure there are many devils here,” he said.
“It’s also a very important message to all European member states and an important signal to the world that no country in the EU is running away from what has been agreed.”
FILE PHOTO: A bulldozer works on a heap of coal at the Zeran Heat Power Plant in Warsaw, Poland November 4, 2017. Picture taken November 4, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo