Poland to reduce use of coal from 70% to 11% says president

The president underlined Poland's active role in global climate policy, and pointed out that Poland has surpassed the Kyoto Protocol's 6-percent CO2 reduction target. Jakub Szymczuk/KPRP

Poland plans to reduce its dependency on coal over the coming two decades by building a “zero-emission energy system,” President Andrzej Duda told the Climate Leaders' Summit on Friday.

Addressing over 40 world leaders at the summit hosted by President Joe Biden, Duda said Poland planned a gradual switch to zero-emission energy over the next 20 years, with coal energy reduced from 70 percent to as little as 11 percent by 2040.

Poland is one of Europe’s biggest producers of coal but recently the government has announced plans to move away from the energy source after coming under intense international pressure and being confronted with rising CO2 emissions.

As part of the process, on Thursday the government said it had reached an agreement with coal-mining unions to gradually close coal mines by 2049.

Duda said Poland’s new energy mix will be based on nuclear and renewable energy, as well as natural gas.

The president also underlined Poland's active role in global climate policy, and pointed out that Poland has surpassed the Kyoto Protocol's 6-percent CO2 reduction target.

"We have gone considerably beyond the CO2 reduction requirements set out in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol... at a 6-percent reduction target, our actual reductions came to 33 percent, which means we overshot the target by a whole 27 percent. ... we plan to build a new, zero-emission energy system in the coming two decades, which will reduce the share of coal from the present 70 to as little as 11 percent by 2040," Duda said.

The president reminded the audience that Poland has hosted the COP world climate summit three times, including the 2018 COP24 meeting in Katowice, whose conclusions contributed to the EU's adoption of the 2050 climate goal.

"The dynamic Poland set in motion at COP24 contributed to the EU's adoption, as the first global economy, of the 2050 climate neutrality goal, and the enlargement of the 2030 emission reduction target to at least 55 percent," Duda said.

He also pointed out that energy transition was impossible without the employment of new technologies, and in this context mentioned Poland's 2020 nuclear power agreement with the US.

The agreement, which secures US support for Poland's nuclear energy programme, confirmed Poland's involvement in international climate action, said Duda.

The president also mentioned Poland's e-mobility plans, and stressed that the introduction of electric-powered public and private transport opened broad opportunities for transatlantic cooperation.

The Covid pandemic, the president added, had managed to "stop the world for a moment" as economies went into lockdown worldwide. Duda stressed, however, that when the global economy returns to normal, it will have to be "more just and balanced" than it had been before the pandemic.