Poland has once again insisted that going carbon-neutral by 2050 is not affordable, after its energy minister concluded that the idea is “a fantasy”. But new analysis claims that the Eastern European country could get the job done on time and on budget.
In June, Poland was among four countries to oppose a European Commission plan that aims to reduce emissions to a net-zero level by 2050. The Czech Republic, Estonia and Hungary also refused to sign up to a pact that requires unanimous agreement.
All four hold-outs have cited the costs of the energy transition as reasons for the delay, although European Council officials and diplomats from other countries still believe that an agreement will be reached at a summit in December.
Estonian Prime Minister Jüri Ratas announced on Thursday (3 October) that Estonia will now support the 2050 goal, while energy Commissioner candidate Kadri Simson said during her hearing that she will dedicate herself to it.
The European Council failed to agree on Thursday (20 June) on a landmark climate strategy for 2050 as the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary and Poland baulked at the mention of a specific date, despite the efforts of France and Germany to convince them.
But on Tuesday (1 October), Polish Minister for Energy Krzysztof Tchorzewski said he treats it “as a fantasy when someone says that Poland is able to reach the zero-emission goal by 2050”.
The minister also said Poland alone will need up to €900 billion to build up its renewable energy capacity, take coal plants offline and clean up its building sector.
Commission analysts estimate it will take up to €575 billion every year for two decades for the bloc to reach the 2050 net-zero milestone collectively, although the EU executive also points to massive savings in avoided health and climate costs.
Europe stands to avoid €200 billion in healthcare costs every year and significantly reduce premature deaths if the EU ends up adopting an ambitious climate change policy for 2050, according to the European Commission’s long-term strategy.
Piotr Naimski, a top level energy adviser to the government, told the Financial Times that it was “not possible and not feasible” for the country to hit the 2050 target. He added that coal will still make up half of the energy mix in two decades time.