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What is Polandʼs pathway to limit global warming to 1.5°C?

In brief

This is a summary of the most important findings of our analysis. Get a brief overview over the most important figures and entry points into the various parts of the in depth analysis.

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Ambition gap

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Polandʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

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Displayed values
Reference year
−120 %−100 %−80 %−60 %−40 %−20 %0 %20002020204020601234
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
Legend
  1. 1
    1.5°C emissions level
    −60 %
  2. 2
    2030 National Target
    −29 %
  3. 3
    Ambition gap
    −30 %
  4. 4
    Reference year
    1990
Key messages

Poland’s contribution to meeting EU’s new emissions reduction goal for 2030 is inadequate. Its emissions reductions target of 29% (excl. LULUCF) from 1990 levels is far from the 55-66% (excl. LULUCF) range that is compatible with the Paris Agreement.1,2

1 Polish Government. Polityka energetyczna Polski do 2040 r. (2021).

2 European Commission. Impact Assessment; Stepping up Europe’s 2030 climate ambition. Investing in a climate-neutral future for the benefit of our people. (European Commission, 2020).

3 Eurostat. Population on 1st January by age, sex and type of projection. (2021).

4 European Environment Agency. EEA greenhouse gas – data viewer. (2021).

5 European Environmental Agency. Trends and projections in Europe 2020 – Tracking progress towards Europe’s climate and energy targets. (2020).

6 Eurostat. Gross inland consumption. (2021).

7 Ancygier, A. Misfit of Interests instead of the “Goodness of Fit”? Implementation of European Directives 2001/77/EC and 2009/28/EC in Poland. (2013).

8 NIK. Rozwój Sektora Odnawialnych Źródeł Energii. (2017).

9 European Council. Conclusions of the European Council meeting on 12 December 2019. (2019).

10 Ministry of Climate. Polityka energetyczna Polski do 2040 r. (2020).

11 European Environmental Agency. EEA greenhouse gas data viewer. (2021). (Accessed: 25th January 2021)..

12 LULUCF sinks assumed are based on the current levels provide by the EEA: -36 MtCO2e in 2018.4

13 While global cost-effective pathways assessed by the IPCC Special Report 1.5°C provide useful guidance for an upper-limit of emissions trajectories for developed countries, they underestimate the feasible space for such countries to reach net zero earlier. The current generation of models tend to depend strongly on land-use sinks outside of currently developed countries and include fossil fuel use well beyond the time at which these could be phased out, compared to what is understood from bottom-up approaches. The scientific teams which provide these global pathways constantly improve the technologies represented in their models – and novel CDR technologies are now being included in new studies focused on deep mitigation scenarios meeting the Paris Agreement. A wide assessment database of these new scenarios is not yet available; thus, we rely on available scenarios which focus particularly on BECCS as a net-negative emission technology. Accordingly, we do not yet consider land-sector emissions (LULUCF) and other CDR approaches which developed countries will need to implement in order to counterbalance their remaining emissions and reach net zero GHG are not considered here due to data availability.

14 In some of the analysed pathways, the power sector assumes already a certain amount of carbon dioxide removal technologies, in this case bioenergy carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

To be consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit, Poland’s emissions would have to decrease from 391 MtCO2e/yr in 2019 to between 161-214 MtCO2e/yr by 2030.

Poland is currently not on track to meet its current emissions reduction goal: adopted policies would result in emissions decreasing to 405 MtCO2e/yr by 2030, just 15% from 1990 levels, equivalent to an increase by 13 MtCO2 in comparison to emissions levels in 2019.5

Poland is the only EU member state that has not committed to the EU’s goal of net zero GHG emissions by 2050.

To be 1.5°C compatible, Poland should reach emissions reductions of 89% by 2040 below 1990 levels and its CO2 emissions should reach zero already in the 2040s, when considering LULUCF sinks at their current levels.12,13

Current policies would see Poland reduce GHGs emissions by around 43% by 2040, instead of the 83% below 1990 levels required to be 1.5°C compatible, with no emissions reduction plans for beyond 2040.1

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Key messages

Poland’s power sector is dominated by coal. While its share has been decreasing steadily in the recent years, reaching below 70% in 2020, coal would need to be completely phased out by 2029 to be consistent with 1.5°C pathways. This would require an increase in the share of renewables to at least 80% by 2030, from just under 18% in 2020.

The decreasing share of coal has been replaced by renewables and to a lesser degree natural gas, which has come with increased investments in gas infrastructure. A 1.5°C compatible pathway would see phase out natural gas by 2036 – a continued expansion of gas could therefore increase the risk of stranded assets.

The government’s goals for 2030 and 2040 indicate a slowdown in deployment of renewables in comparison to recent years. Instead, it plans to deploy nuclear energy. Even if the plans to build up to six nuclear reactors, materialise, this approach will result in much higher costs and significantly higher emissions before the nuclear power plants would start generating electricity, with the first reactor not coming online until 2033.1

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Key power sector benchmarks

Renewables shares and year of zero emissions power Including the use of BECCS

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Current targets
Required targets
2030
  1. 2030 32 % Renewable share
  1. 2030 81 to 90% Renewable share
2035
  1. 2035 36 % Renewable share
  1. 2035-2043 Zero emissions power
2040
  1. 2040 11 to 28% Coal consumption share
  2. 2040 40 % Renewable share
  1. 2040 99 % Renewable share

Footnotes