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Ambition gap

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

1.5°C compatible pathways

The emissions reduction goal for 2030 of 29% (excl. LULUCF) below 1990 levels presented in the recently adopted 2040 Poland Energy Policy falls significantly short of being 1.5°C compatible.1 This is significantly less ambitious than the EU goal, that Poland has agreed to contribute to achieving, which requires emissions decrease at more than twice this speed until 2030. Poland’s emissions per capita are on average already higher than of the EU. Should Poland fail to increase its emissions reduction goal, its emissions per capita in 2030 would be almost twice that of the EU average, reflecting a much lower level of ambition.3,4

To be compatible with the 1.5°C limit, Poland’s emissions need to decrease in 2030 by between 55-66% below 1990 levels. Poland has the capacity and the capability to reduce emissions at this speed, not the least due to the significant financial support from the EU. Replacing coal and natural gas by renewables, energy efficiency, and green hydrogen creates an opportunity for Poland to not only reduce emissions but also recover from the economic crisis, improve air quality, and reduce energy dependency.

Long term pathway

Poland does not have in place any long-term net zero target. To be 1.5°C compatible, Poland should reach emissions reductions of 83% 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 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 2040.1,13

1.5°C scenarios show that the major contribution to remaining emissions in 2050 comes from agriculture, which is responsible for almost all non-CO₂ emissions together with waste. Poland will need to balance its remaining emissions by mid-century through the development of carbon dioxide removal approaches such as the land sector.

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).

Methodology

Polandʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
−120%−100%−80%−60%−40%−20%0%19902010203020502070
Reference year
1990
1.5°C emissions level
−61%
2030 National Target
−29%
Ambition gap
−32%
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Current policy projections
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Historical emissions
2030 emissions levels
Current policy projections
2030 National Target
1.5°C emissions level
Ref. year 1990
475MtCO₂e/yr

Energy system transformation

Phasing out coal would significantly reduce emissions intensity of electricity and, through electrification of end-use sectors, support the decarbonisation of other sectors. Electrification of heat in households would be accompanied by home insulation and other energy efficiency measures. Electrification of the transport sector would be complemented by green hydrogen for heavy duty vehicles, and a shift in the mode of transport, especially from air and road to train, where possible.

Poland will need to decrease its overall energy consumption by 40% in 2030 and 57% by 2050, in comparison to 2017 levels. This will need to be accompanied by a significant uptake in renewables. 1.5°C compatible scenarios indicate the share of renewables reaching between 68% and almost 100% in 2050, with remaining emissions balanced by carbon dioxide removals approaches, such as BECCS which are to date, largely unproven and uneconomic. The development of renewables is especially critical in the 2020s: scenarios with low requirements for negative emissions technologies show renewables share of generation reaching 90% by 2030.

Methodology

Polandʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

Scaling
SSP1 Low CDR reliance
20192030204020504 000
SSP1 High CDR reliance
20192030204020504 000
Low Energy Demand
20192030204020504 000
High Energy Demand - Low CDR reliance
20192030204020504 000
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS
  • Unabated fossil
  • Renewables incl. Biomass
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS

Polandʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

−100010020030040019902010203020502070
  • 1.5°C compatible pathways
  • 1.5°C emissions range
  • Middle of the 1.5°C compatible range
  • Historical emissions

1.5°C compatible emissions benchmarks

Key emissions benchmarks of Paris compatible Pathways for Poland. The 1.5°C compatible range is based on the Paris Agreement compatible pathways from the IPCC SR1.5 filtered with sustainability criteria. The median (50th percentile) to 5th percentile and middle of the range are provided here. Relative reductions are provided based on the reference year.

Reference year
Indicator
1990
Reference year
2019
2030
2040
2050
Year of net zero GHG
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
475
392
187
161 to 209
81
44 to 107
37
13 to 52
2054
Relative to reference year in %
−61%
−66 to −56%
−83%
−91 to −78%
−92%
−97 to −89%
Total CO₂
MtCO₂/yr
375
319
159
116 to 175
52
9 to 86
4
−9 to 27
2057
2044 to 2066
Relative to reference year in %
−58%
−69 to −53%
−86%
−98 to −77%
−99%
−102 to −93%

Footnotes