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Poland In brief

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

Economy wide

To be consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit, Poland’s emissions would have to decrease from 392 MtCO₂e/yr in 2019 to between 161-209 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, excluding LULUCF. Poland is currently not on track to meet its current emissions reduction goal: adopted policies would result in emissions increasing to 405 MtCO₂e/yr by 2030, just 15% below 1990 levels, equivalent to an increase by 13 MtCO₂ in comparison to emissions levels in 2019.5

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 Ambition

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 56-66% (excl. LULUCF) range that is compatible with the Paris Agreement.1,2

1 Ministerstwo Klimatu i Środowiska. Polityka energetyczna Polski do 2040 r. (2021).

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

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

4 Eurostat. Gross inland consumption. (2021).

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

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

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

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

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

10 ACEA. Interactive map – CO2 emissions from new passenger cars in the EU, by country. ACEA. (2021).

11 ACEA. Vehicles in use in Europe 2022. (2022).

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

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

14 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.

15 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).

Net zero GHG

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

Net zero CO₂

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.13,14

Negative emissions

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

Sectors

Power

  • Poland’s power sector is dominated by coal. After having dropped to below 70% in 2020, the share of coal increased in 2021 to 72%. 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 renewable energy to at least 75% by 2030, from about 17% in 2021.
  • 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 a phase-out of 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, materialised, this approach would 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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Buildings

  • Poland’s buildings sector is emissions intensive due to high levels of coal use for heating
  • Electrification combined with energy efficiency measures would create an opportunity for full decarbonisation of the sector around 2047and 2050
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Transport

  • Emissions from transport in Poland have more than tripled since 1990. High levels of car ownership, driven by underdeveloped public transport, and slow electrification of the transport sector are the main drivers of this increase
  • Electrification will be essential to decarbonise the sector by the middle of the century.
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Industry

  • In contrast to Poland’s overall downward trend, emissions from the industry sector increased by 7% between 1990 and 2019 and accounted for around 6.4% of the country’s total emissions in 2019.
  • Analysed 1.5 pathways show that hydrogen and electrification are the main drivers of emissions reduction from the sector. When combined with energy efficiency measures, they could result in full decarbonisation of the sector before the end of the 2030s
  • Removal of free allowances in the framework of the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), accompanied with support mechanism for low carbon technologies, such as Carbon Contracts for Difference are essential for the sector decarbonisation.
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Footnotes