Climate change mitigation (Poland)
Why should we care about this issue
- Climate change
Climate change is a multi-dimensional phenomenon, with a multitude of consequences. With changing temperature balances, it has a considerable impact on human life, sectors of the economy, the functioning of ecosystems, and state of the environment.
In addition, a reduction in the consumption of energy and materials in industrial production and increased energy efficiency of individual users, also by altering their behaviour, is of measurable advantage both ecologically and economically.
The state and impacts
Global warming is unequivocal and is evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising average sea levels.
The increase in temperature is also evident in Poland. The last decade of the 20th century was particularly warm, although the rising trend in average annual temperatures can be seen both at meteorological stations located on the outskirts of towns and those situated in areas with limited anthropogenic impacts, for example at Mount Śnieżka, where the increase amounted to 0.6 oC per 100 years. A similar increase in the average annual temperature has been recorded at stations located along the Baltic coast, with long observed data series (Gdańsk–Wrzeszcz, Hel and Koszalin), as well as the Warsaw Observatory weather station. Also, a comparison of average annual temperatures for the whole territory of Poland for 1991‑2000 compared to the thirty-year period 1961‑1990 (the WMO reference period) has shown that the last decade of the 20th century was 0.6 oC warmer, with the highest increase in temperatures occurring in the winter months: 1.9 oC warmer in January and 1.5 oC in February. In December, however, temperature values were identical in the comparable periods and lower in October and November by 0.2 ºC and 0.7 ºC, respectively. A similar trend showing a higher increase in temperature in winter than in summer has been observed throughout Europe. Figure 1 below shows the average annual temperatures recorded at the Warsaw Okęcie weather station since 1971.
Changes in atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols, land cover and solar radiation alter the energy balance of the climate system. The anticipated climate changes will, for the most part, have an adverse impact on many systems and sectors. For example: the expected increased prevalence of meteorological highs and the related high air temperatures, combined with increased solar radiation and contamination, will contribute to the deterioration of air quality, among other things through an increase in the ozone concentration levels in the layers of the atmosphere closest to the Earth. Also, the anticipated impact of climate change can be seen mainly through changes in the water balance, in particular increased low tides, increased evaporation, the deteriorating quality of inland waters and an increased frequency of extreme hydrological conditions (droughts and floods), whilst prolonged dry seasons and warmer winters may result in an increase in the pest population, leading to a further decline of forests. Higher temperatures in the summer may lead to an increased fire risk. Changes to the flora caused by climate change and economic use of land may lead to a fragmentation of plant populations and a reduced biological diversity in forest ecosystems.
The key drivers and pressures
Greenhouse gas emissions in Poland, without taking into account the greenhouse gas balance arising from land use, changes in land use and forestry, amounted to almost 399 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent in 2007 and have not exceeded 400 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent since 1999. In 1988, those emission levels were much higher, reaching almost 570 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent. In 1988–1990, there was a significant reduction in emissions to approximately 460 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, as a result of changes in the political system and economic reforms (Fig. 2). This situation resulted from the political transformation commenced and the transition from central planning to a free market economy, resulting in the collapse of many sectors of industry with high energy consumption levels and high emissions.
The main greenhouse gas produced in Poland is CO2 (82 % of emissions). The majority of emissions of that gas come from fuel combustion (92 %), both from stationary sources (such as power plants, co-generation plants) and mobile sources (transport), whilst the remainder, i.e. over 7 %, are connected with industrial processes (Fig. 3).
An analysis of the changes in greenhouse gas emissions by reference to changes in GDP and the consumption of primary energy and electric energy shows that economic growth observed since 1990 had been accompanied by a stabilisation (until 1997) of, and a subsequent reduction in, greenhouse gas emissions (Fig. 4). Trends relating to changes in the consumption of primary energy and electric energy are identical to the pattern of changes in greenhouse gas emissions, although the gap between emissions and primary energy consumption has been widening since 1999, pointing to, among others, a more efficient use of energy in the Polish economy.
It must be emphasised that, despite a dynamic growth of the economy in the period 1990-2007, resulting in, for example, GDP growth of over 75 %, greenhouse gas emissions remain at a stable level of approximately 30 % below the 1988 emission levels. This was possible due to a widespread implementation of modern technologies in industry and the introduction of many instruments, including legal instruments, promoting low-emission and energy-saving solutions.
Fig. 4: Changes in greenhouse gas emissions in Poland (in CO2 equivalent) compared to changes in primary energy consumption, electric energy consumption and GDP in 1990–2008 (1990 = 100 %) (Source: GUS)
The 2020 outlook
The greenhouse gas emission outlook has been presented in the Fifth Government Report for the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The presented national projections included forecast greenhouse gas emissions until 2030 (divided into 2015, 2020 and 2030), taking into account the adopted and implemented policies and measures aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These projections constitute a “with measures” scenario. Under the “with measures” scenario, the forecast emissions of greenhouse gases, in particular CO2, are reduced by 2020, then increase in 2030, reaching the level of 387 948 Gg of CO2 equivalent.
Fig. 5: Current (1988-2007) and projected (2015, 2020 and 2030) greenhouse gas emissions in Poland by reference to the emission limits arising from the Kyoto Protocol (Source: IOŚ-KASHUE) [Key: Gg CO2 eq. / KP reduction target]
Existing and planned responses
The main measures supporting efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions include, first of all, increasing the energy efficiency of the economy, promoting and implementing technologies using renewable energy sources and absorbing carbon dioxide, taking steps aimed at reducing emissions from transport, as well as promoting sustainable forms of waste management, agriculture and forestry.
Poland ratified the Climate Convention in 1994 and the Kyoto Protocol in 2002, undertaking to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases (CO2, CH4 and N2O) during the period from 2008 to 2012 by 6 % by reference to the emissions in the baseline year 1988. For fluoridated industrial gases, Poland adopted 1995 as the baseline year.
The government document formulating the state environmental policy, including also as regards climate protection, is the National Environmental Policy for 2009-2012 and Its 2016 Otlook, adopted by the Sejm on 22 May 2009. The document sets out the objectives, priorities, challenges and directions and the main priorities of Poland’s ecological policy over the next four to eight years, including the national reduction target arising from the Kyoto Protocol.
A decisive factor of the energy policy in limiting any increase in emissions is the introduction of high-efficiency energy generation and transmission technologies, including the modernisation of existing technologies. A very important element of the strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is to stimulate increased use of renewable energy sources in the energy sector. Another important element of energy policy is to increase the energy efficiency of the economy by, among other things, implementing Directive 2006/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 5 April 2006 on energy end-use efficiency and energy services and repealing Council Directive 93/76/EEC (Text with EEA relevance), as well as the diversification of the power generation system over a longer perspective by introducing nuclear energy.
Other policies and measures implemented in Poland in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions include, among other things:
- in transport, promotion and use of biofuels and promotion of environmentally neutral vehicles,
- in the construction industry, expansion and modification of technical and building regulations relating to heat insulation of buildings as regards the heat escape ratio through external walls, efficiency of heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems and domestic hot water systems,
- in agriculture, improved use of fertilisers, including nitrogen-based fertilisers (a fertiliser advice system has been introduced, helping to determine doses of fertilisers precisely), rationalisation of energy management, including generation of energy from biomass waste or manure; and popularisation of small widespread power generation sources,
- in waste management, the National Waste Management Plan until 2010 promotes measures aimed at preventing and minimising the generation of waste, waste recycling, neutralisation and waste disposal that is safe to human life and to the environment.
Sources of information:
Fifth Government Report for the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change http://www.mos.gov.pl/g2/big/2010_03/c0a7a12f566785012e1282bb3f3d3154.pdf
National Database on Emissions of Greenhouse Gases and Other Substances https://krajowabaza.kobize.pl/person/login
National Register of Emission Allowances https://rejestr.kashue.pl/
National Environmental Policy for 2009-2012 and Its 2016 outlook, adopted by the Council of Ministers in December 2008 http://mos.gov.pl/g2/big/2009_07/2826c539c3015384e50adac8fe920b0b.pdf
Poland’s energy policy until 2030 http://www.mg.gov.pl/Gospodarka/Energetyka/Polityka+energetyczna