Poland plans to set end date for coal power

By Kate Abnett

BRUSSELS (Reuters) -Poland plans to set an end date for coal-fuelled power, the country’s Secretary of State for Climate Urszula Zielinska said on Monday, marking a shift from the previous government’s stance on climate change.

Poland’s October 2023 election ended eight years of Law and Justice (PiS) party rule, and led to a new government that Zielinska said was increasing environmental efforts – including a phase-out date for coal power.

“Only with an end date we can plan and only with an end date industry can plan, people can plan. So yes, absolutely, we will be looking to set an end date,” she told reporters in Brussels.

Poland gets around 70% of its power from coal, the most CO2-emitting fossil fuel, although it has increased wind and solar generation in recent years.

The previous government agreed a pact with trade unions to keep mining coal until 2049. But scientists say deep cuts to emissions from burning coal are needed this decade to avoid severe climate change. U.N. Secretary General António Guterres has urged all countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to phase out coal by 2030.

Zielinska, who was appointed in December, said the new government was reviewing Poland’s climate and energy plans, and that any changes would support affected workers and industries.

“It’s all under revision and with a view to step up the efforts, but also to secure the people who may be most impacted, the industries as well, to make sure that the industries are really smoothly transitioned into new green branches,” she said.

Her comments a change in tone from Poland, which has opposed certain environmental measures within the European Union. Warsaw took Brussels to court last year in an attempt to cancel EU climate policies, including a 2035 ban on new CO2-emitting cars.

Zielinska said Warsaw was also ready to embrace a target for the EU to cut emissions by 90% by 2040, and would be pushing to ensure the impact on society was addressed.

However, in comments published later on Monday on social media platform X, she seemed to be softening her tone.

“However, this does not mean that we already have a clear declaration on the emission reduction target for 2040 at such an early stage,” she wrote.

“Today, we declare openness to negotiations and an announcement of Poland’s constructive approach to climate policy … The government’s position on the 2040 climate target will be developed after the Commission’s detailed proposal is announced.”

(Reporting by Kate Abnett, Additional reporting by Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk in Warsaw; editing by Barbara Lewis and Tomasz Janowski)