If the EU is to achieve its climate goals, Poland will have to play a key role. But Poland is the only EU member state still committed to achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
If Poland wants to prepare for the negative impacts of climate change and maintain its economic competitiveness, it must start by adopting its own climate law.
It has been four years since the EU announced it would become a climate-neutral economy by 2050, a goal that will be impossible to achieve without its third largest carbon emitter get in line.
Poland has long been labeled a climate laggard in the EU and has earned this reputation by being the only EU member state resisting its pledge to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
It is currently classified near the bottom of international rankings on climate efforts.
Coal dependence continues to stifle the uptake of renewables
But the government is still making glacial progress in reducing its reliance on dirty and expensive fossil fuels.
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Poland relies heavily on the most powerful of fossil fuels, with over 70% of its power coming from coal.
The Polish government expects coal mining to continue until 2049 – a complete rebuke to scientists who have repeatedly said that coal must be phased out urgently.
Meanwhile, the adoption of renewable energy has been slow. A prohibitive rule that effectively blocks any new onshore wind since 2016 it has now been changed.
But a last-minute amendment derailed the initial pledge, meaning far fewer onshore wind projects can be jump-started quickly.
What are Poland’s goals?
Poland’s climate apathy is bad news not only for the climate but also for the people.
That’s why ClientEarth was launched a series of lawsuits in 2021 to protect Polish men and women who are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.
But there is also a way forward for the government.
The country has yet to adopt its own climate law. It is slowly but surely becoming an outlier in the EU on that front.
Poland can become a climate leader, but only with the right set of goals to work towards. Right now, this set of goals is almost non-existent.
The country has yet to adopt its own climate law. It is slowly but surely becoming an outlier in the EU on that front. 16 EU member states, such as Hungary, France and Spain, already have one.
Other EU countries, like Slovakiathey are drafting such laws.
Poland needs a climate law and we have a proposal
Our organization, ClientEarth, drafted what could become Poland’s climate law.
This is a wide range of climate measures that will not only reduce emissions, but also reduce spiraling electricity bills and create well-paying jobs.
How a waste treatment plant in Poland works to reduce methane emissions
Our draft follows what has been done in other countries. It is a framework that leaves room for those in power to determine the path to climate neutrality. It is also technologically neutral.
And most importantly, it introduces strong control mechanisms to ensure that what the law sets out to achieve is implemented.
Some of the measures in the draft law include setting a legally binding target for Poland to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 at the latest; allocate at least 1% of GDP annually to climate protection; and the introduction of an obligation to check whether large investments harm the climate.
Others include creating an independent statutory body to provide scientific advice to government on climate policy, similar to the UK’s Climate Change Committee, and recognizing the right to a safe climate.
This also includes the right to be protected from the effects of adverse climate change, as well as the right to demand that public authorities comply with their legal obligations relating to climate protection.
Poland can make or break the EU’s climate ambitions
Data from surveys commissioned by ClientEarth show that there is broad public support not only for introducing tougher climate measures into the law (69% of Poles approve), but also for the specific measures we included in our draft.
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A legally binding timeline to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is supported by 73% and allocating 1% of GDP to fight climate change by over three-quarters of Poles (76%).
The need to introduce a climate protection law also has the support of the Polish environmental sector, with “The Climate Coalition”, formed by 26 environmental NGOs, supporting such a law.
In Poland, where the rule of law has been in crisis for years, social organizations are increasingly called upon to replace the state in its functions.
During the climate week in Warsaw, which will take place this week, we are holding discussions with policy makers to get their support.
By putting this bill on the table, we are doing what the government should be doing.
This is just one of the many examples that demonstrate that in Poland, where the rule of law has been in crisis for years, social organizations are increasingly called upon to replace the state in its functions.
As Poland experiences longer-lasting droughts, sudden heavy rains and storms, it is high time the country’s leaders have a legally binding climate plan that sees Poland go from being a laggard to a leader when it comes to the climate crisis.
Zuzanna Rudzińska-Bluszcz is a human rights lawyer and head of ClientEarth in Poland. Dr. Marcin Stoczkiewicz is an environmental lawyer and head of the legal group at ClientEarth, an international environmental law charity.
At RockedBuzz via Euronews, we believe that all opinions matter. Contact us at [email protected] to send proposals or comments and take part in the conversation.
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