Polish president speaks for growth-climate compromise

Supporting economic growth while taking care of the environment seems to be a key challenge today, Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, said on Wednesday.

Duda was speaking on the 2nd day of a Visegrad Group (V4) summit, also attended by the heads of state of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, the countries that together with Poland make up the informal regional group.

Duda invited the three other presidents to his presidential residence in the coastal resort of Jurata to mark the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the V4.

"Reconciling economic growth with care for the natural environment is currently one of the key challenges that our region, the European Union and the whole world face," Duda said.

Speaking of the consequences of climate change, the Polish president gave the example of drought that had affected Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in recent years.

Duda said Poland had managed to reduce its CO2 footprint by 18 percent since 1989. "This shows the determination and efficiency of our actions in this area and bodes very well for the future."

The V4 power and heating industries are still dependent on fossil fuels, but the EU has been pushing for more climate friendly solutions to halt climate change.

Duda went on to say that "overcoming the historical burden and transforming our power sectors is a long-lasting process that will require us to incur huge costs, much higher than in developed EU countries."

There are also social costs as the energy transition involves a shake-up of labour markets and teaching energy sector employees new skills, the Polish president continued.

Duda said a just energy transformation is a priority for Poland's current presidency of the V4.

"We can see the potential of energy transformation in spurring our economies after the Covid-19 pandemic," the president said. "We want the return to the right track in line with the principles of sustainable growth."

Set up on February 15, 1991, the Visegrad Group is an informal platform of regional cooperation between Bratislava, Budapest, Prague and Warsaw. All four V4 countries have been EU members since 2004. Poland is currently holding the Group's 12-month presidency.