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Poland 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.2 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 those 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.9,10

To be compatible with the 1.5°C limit, Poland’s emissions need to decrease in 2030 by between 56-66% 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 and green hydrogen, and ramping up energy efficiency create an opportunity for Poland to not only reduce emissions but also make itself independent from energy imports.

Long term pathway

Poland does not have a long-term net zero target. To be 1.5°C compatible, the country should reduce emissions by 89% by 2040 below 1990 levels and reach zero CO₂ emissions already in the 2040s, when considering LULUCF sinks at their current levels.14 Current policies would see Poland reduce GHGs emissions by around 22% by 2035, with no emissions reduction plans for beyond 2040.2,15

1.5°C scenarios show that the agricultural sector will be the biggest source of emissions in 2050, responsible for almost all non-CO₂ emissions together with the waste sector. Poland will need to balance its remaining emissions by mid-century through the development of carbon dioxide removal approaches such as land sinks.

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

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

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

4 Forum Energii. Energy transition in Poland | 2022 Edition. (2022).

5 Eurostat. Gross inland consumption. (2021).

6 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).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14 LULUCF sinks assumed are based on the current levels provide by the EEA: -36 MtCO₂e in 2018.10

15 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.

16 Calculated based on Annex to the Poland’s Energy Policy Until 2040, table 28 and historic emissions data for 1990 from the European Environment Agency.10,13

17 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).


Polandʼs total GHG emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂e/yr

Displayed values
Reference year
Reference year
1.5°C emissions level
2030 National Target
Ambition gap
  • 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

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 rail, 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 up to 81% in 2050, with remaining emissions balanced by carbon dioxide removal 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 the share of renewable energy of the power mix reaching 90% by 2030.


Polandʼs primary energy mix

petajoule per year

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
  • Renewables incl. biomass
  • Unabated fossil
  • Nuclear and/or fossil with CCS
  • Negative emissions technologies via BECCS

Polandʼs total CO₂ emissions

excl. LULUCF MtCO₂/yr

  • 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
Reference year
Year of net zero
incl. BECCS excl. LULUCF and novel CDR
Total GHG
Megatonnes CO₂ equivalent per year
161 to 209
44 to 107
13 to 52
Relative to reference year in %
−66 to −56%
−91 to −78%
−97 to −89%
Total CO₂
116 to 175
9 to 86
−9 to 27
2044 to 2066
Relative to reference year in %
−69 to −53%
−98 to −77%
−102 to −93%