Poland keeps coal exit target as top utility seeks quicker carbon neutrality

WARSAW (Reuters) – Poland is not planning a quicker end to using coal, the government said on Wednesday, criticising state-controlled utility PGE for bringing forward its carbon neutrality target by a decade to 2040.

Under a pact the government signed with trade unions, Poland plans to keep mining coal until 2049.

PGE, Poland’s biggest power utility, said on Tuesday it is seeking a faster exit as it bets on renewable energy.

While coal generates some 70% of Poland’s electricity, experts say using the fuel in power generation is not sustainable in the long run amid rising costs and the European Union’s green climate policies.

“The Polish government’s energy policy implemented by the Ministry of State Assets does not assume acceleration of the coal phase-out,” the ministry said in a statement, commenting on PGE’s strategy update.PGE will have to shoulder 26 billion zloty ($6.4 billion) of carbon emission costs this year and needs to speed up its transformation to reduce the burden and remain competitive, Chief Executive Wojciech Dabrowski told Polish public radio on Wednesday.

“The Ministry of State Assets expects that the assumptions of the government’s energy policy will be implemented in practice by all energy companies with State Treasury shareholding, which will also be reflected in their strategies and investment activities,” the ministry said.

($1 = 4.0875 zlotys)

(Reporting by Marek Strzelecki; Editing by Mark Potter)