Poland                        By Aleskandra Arcipowska (Polish Ecological Club, Mazovia Branch, Poland)


Basic information





Mt CO2



Mt CO2



2007 %



year  %

Kyoto target



















No target




GDP Growth



GDP Growth



GDP Growth (est.) %

Gross Inland Energy Consumption Change

Feb.2009/ Feb.2008     %






Source: EEA Report No. 5/2007


In 1992 Poland signed the United Nations Frame Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and then went on to sign the Kyoto Protocol in 1997. According to the Kyoto Protocol, Poland is obliged to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions for 2008–2012 by 6% in relation to the base year, 1988. During the period from 1988 to 2005, Poland reduced its emissions by 32%, mostly due to economical changes related to a political transformation from central planning to market economy[1].


The costs of those changes were significant, with a 20% decrease of employment, for example. In 2005, more than 73% of total GHG emissions in Poland were generated by the energy sector (excluding transport). Hard coal plays a very important role in the Polish energy mix, resulting in high emissions and CO2 intensity. The share of solid fuels in electricity generation (97% in 2005) is the highest among the EU Member States. The primary energy supply from coal is also high (58% in 2005)[2].


      The greenhouse-gas emissions of the energy sector decline year by year, as a result of energy-efficiency policies and measures implemented. In the future, a slight increase is expected, stemming from the forecasted economic growth rate. For the transport sector, emissions are also declining continuously. In the period from 2007 to 2013, more than 100 billion EUR from the EU funds is to be spent for new investments in Poland. Some 63% of those funds are expected to be channeled into road-based transportation projects.


Source: EEA Report No. 5/2007


      Since 2003, Poland has had its Climate Policy act, with the goal of 40% GHG reduction by 2020, compared to 1988. Does the predicted increase of GHG emissions in the period from 2007 to 2013[3] undermine this ambitious climate goal? Several factors may affect results; for instance,


·          Since 1990, the energy intensity of Poland’s GDP has decreased by ca. 30%. The energy intensity remains twice as low as the EU's average for that same period[4];

·        The respective efficiencies of power plants in Poland and in the EU-15 amount to 36.5% and 46.5%;

·         Thermal insulation of residential buildings in Poland amounts to 150-350 kWh per sq m per year, as compared to 40-90 kWh per sq m per year in the EU-15;

·         Only 20% of the heating systems in Poland are pre-insulated, etc.


Public attitude towards Climate Change (CC)




      According to the official data, increased intensity of the extreme weather incidents in Poland is a fact. In 1991 there was only one case of a heavy gale, while in 2006 the number increased to 52 [5]. Apart from a lot of other negative factors, tourism suffers from a lack of snowy winters, while agriculture is harmed by floods and droughts. Despite all of those facts, the general public's interest in climate issues is very low. There is a general awareness that the climate change is a fact, but there is still a disagreement on the human responsibility for this process and a general doubt prevails in the public and media debates on any other related topics.

       There has been almost no news about major scientific and economical reports such as the IPCC 4AR or Stern reports. Moreover, in Poland, the existing and potential consequences of climate change are considered a non-issue for the neighboring vicinity. They are rather perceived as a “problem of other regions whom we cannot help to any larger extent”. Also, it is a common misunderstanding of the problem to translate and consider the climate change process as, e.g., delivering more advantageous conditions for tourism at the Baltic seaside. As far as the energy is concerned, the understanding of EU energy and climate policies is poor. GHG emission reduction is seen mostly as a cause of higher energy costs for households and national industry sectors.

      Strong scientific bodies dealing with the climate-change issues in Poland are almost non-existent. The Polish NGO movement has a good understanding of the problem and seems to have one of the most important roles in providing relevant information and education. NGOs, through their activities and co-operation with the media, provide and disseminate crucial analyses of current issues related to the climate change as well as reports of its confirmed and possible consequences. In 2008, the Institute for Sustainable Development (InE) issued a report on the environmental awareness of the general public in Poland. Contrary to the previous study from 2004[6], the public’s opinion as to the nature of the country’s leading environmental problem changed  from „ozone layer depletion“ to „climate change“. It seems to be an effect of the increasing media interest in climate issues. The important role of RES within the energy system was indicated by ca. 50% of respondents, while 23% mentioned energy efficiency. Nuclear power was supported by 30% of the respondents.


NGO activity


      An alliance of Polish NGOs for climate protection, the Climate Coalition[7], was established in 2002. There were 10 founding members, mainly environmental, involved in the advocacy activities for global climate protection. In 2003, the Coalition took part in the public consultation on the Climate Policy for Poland, which was successfully finalised with the inclusion of ambitious goals into the Policy. For many years, Polish NGOs have taken part actively in consultations about most of the crucial climate and energy policies. They have been preparing opinions and position papers, attending various Parliamentary Commissions' sessions.


There are several NGOs working consistently on the climate-protection-related projects at various levels (education, lobby, mass actions)[8]. NGOs are also involved to a large extent in the public discourse on the future of the energy sector. NGOs' experts are often invited to the efforts of governmental expertise such as consideration of the potential of RES use in Poland, the concept of the white certificate of energy efficiency for Poland, and many others. Despite these efforts, NGOs’ input is not always considered seriously or taken into account in the political dialogue. At the end of 2007, the Polish Climate Coalition launched a large campaign aiming at promoting better understanding of the UNFCCC negotiation process and preparations for the COP in Poznan as well as for the COP in Copenhagen. The project is targeted at the general public, decision-makers, business sector, media people, NGOs and the Climate Coalition itself.


The fact that in 2008 Poland held the UN Climate Conference (COP 14) attracts the general public's attention and causes NGOs (and not only NGOs) to get interested in climate change issues. At this time, there are several more new organizations which are focused on the climate question.




There is a media debate on the human responsibility aspect of the process. The natural disasters like floods and gales are linked to the fact of climate change; yet, the topic is still not correctly and adequately understood. It is suspected it is not “sexy” enough for the media. The media in Poland seem to be interested more in the European Climate and Energy Policy rather than in global problems such as the climate change. The concepts of allocation of GHG-emission permits for the emissions trading scheme (ETS) (in the past) and of auctioning and its allegedly damaging impact on the national economy seem currently to be very hot media topics. There is a lack of interest in issues like the future post-Kyoto agreement, burden-sharing, etc. Major high-level meetings like the COPs and events such as the publication of the 4AR IPCC report are brought to the media's attention mostly by NGOs.




Prior to the Parliamentary elections in 2007, there had been no word on climate protection mentioned in the programmes of the most influential political parties[9]. The situation has not changed so far. Within the Polish government, it is only the Ministry of Environment which is factually aware of global warming and involved in the activities conceived to counteract it as well as to mitigate its impact. From the general perspective, the Polish Government is primarily interested in fast and intensive economic growth.  Any direct or indirect climate-change counter-measures are widely criticised as hindrances to the divine 'growth'. There is little understanding that the GDP growth can be achieved without a dramatic increase in the GHG emissions.


Poland has agreed to the European Climate and Energy Package goals (3x20%), even though ways to achieve them are still disputed and viewed as difficult to follow at some points. The most controversial idea of the agreement is the auctioning of 100% of the CO2 emission credits through the ETS, which is expected to be in place in 2013. It is seen both by the government and in public opinion as a serious threat to the national economy and as  an even more serious threat to a lot of the industry stakeholders and other businesses in Poland[10]. The NGOs are not that skeptical of the auctioning idea, viewing it as a challenge for Poland, highlighting at the same time the opportunities for the economy[11], potential for boosting innovations, expanding RES and improving the overall energy efficiency. As far as the agreement on post-2012 targets is concerned, there is still a discussion going on, and there is no official position available. As is mentioned above, the government is expecting an increase in GHG emissions in the next several years to come. The NGOs' Climate Coalition lobbies to keep the Polish Climate Policy goal of 40% GHG emissions reduction target by 2020. It must also be noted that Poland did not officially support the Hungarian Proposal. As for the national energy policy, a new policy act is currently being drafted[12] by the Ministry of Economy. Apart from the priorities assigned to energy efficiency and increase of renewable energy use, the draft envisages also construction and operation of a nuclear power plant in Poland in the future as a tool for GHG-emission reduction.


Poland as a host country of COP14

For the general public it was far more important to have Poland as a host country for the EURO 2012 Football Championships[13] than for the COP14 in 2008. This opinion was unfortunately shared by many politicians, media people, etc., even though Poland is being led by the Ministry of Environment, and actively supported by NGOs and the business sector, who prepared the meeting in Poznan. Of two working groups established within the Ministry of Environment, one was focusing on the UNFCCC negotiations, the other on the event's logistics and promotion[14]. Additionally, a new position of the Embassy for Climate was set up in 2008. Under the initiative of the Polish Ministry of Environment, the informal meeting before COP (so-called pre-COP) took place in October, in Warsaw. Also a Partnership for Climate was held by the Ministry of Environment, to involve a media campaign and several events before and during the COP14.


More information:



National Inventory Report (in English): http://emissions.ios.edu.pl/kcie/Download/InventorySubmission2008/NIR_2006_PL_Eng_ver.pdf




13 If the base year for Poland were 1990, the GHG-emission reduction by 2005 would amount to16.5%, instead of 32%.

[2]   http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/energy_transport/figures/pocketbook/2007_en.htm

[3]  The government's estimation of a potential GHG-emission increase resulting from new investments supported with the EU's funds is ca. 30%.

[4]   In 2005, the energy intensity of GDP in the EU-15 was 184 ktoe /1000 EUR; it was 584 ktoe/1000 EUR for Poland.

[5]  European Severe Weather Database.

[6]      Since 1992, the Institute for Sustainable Development has published studies of the environmental awareness of Polish society. All of the studies reported were conducted by the same center, the Social Opinion Research Center, which provides uniform standards for research.

[7]      http://www.koalicjaklimatyczna.org/index.php?id=koalicja&lang=en

[8]      For example, since 2002, The Climate Bulletin has been published every three months with news updates and opinions on the global agreement and related issues.

[9]      Prior to the elections in 2007, the Polish Ecological Club’s Mazovian Branch issued a report on including climate-protection issues in the political programs of the most influential political parties in Poland.

[10]    There is a report prepared by Energsys on the potential impact of the EU climate policy on the Polish economy. It is claimed that the EU Energy and Climate Package implementation will cause losses to the economy amounting to 505 billion PLN in 2030.

[11]    During the period of 2013–2020 there will be 5-7 billion EUR of income from the auctioning available for spending by the Polish Government on further investments.

[12]    http://www.mg.gov.pl/English/News/Consultations+for+Poland’s+new+energy+policy.htm

[13]    14th European Championships for national football teams in 2012 sponsored by UEFA.

[14]    There are 16 officers at the Ministry of Environment working on COP 14, while at the Danish Ministry there are already more than 60.