Saturday, July 25, 2020

Silesia is among victors of the Brussels summit. The pace of achieving climate neutrality allows it to "catch a breath"

Two realities
Silesia, Upper Silesia to be more precise, is Poland's "coal country", literally. As well as heavy industry. Throughout the last 100 years there was a bloody struggle among Poles and Germans living there about what country they should be part of. Germans get to pretend now that it is all about "climate change", but recent history, WWII, proved that it is also about getting even. 

There still talk about the recent summit of the historic European Council. The cuts in the Just Transition Fund (JTF) are among the most controversial decisions. It now amounts to EUR 17.5 billion and it is a return to the parameters previously proposed by the European Commission. It is worth remembering that the political and media interest in the JTF does not go hand in hand with the real impact of this mechanism on the energy transition. Even at an uncut EUR 40 billion, the fund would be just a drop in the sea of investment needs. In Poland alone, in the next decade, the cost of adapting the economy to the requirements of the EU climate policy is estimated at a quarter of a trillion euro! The German think-tank Agora Energiewende estimates that the entire European Union needs investments worth EUR 2.4 trillion to achieve its climate goals.

Despite the cuts, Poland still remains to be the largest beneficiary of the JTF where the most of the money will go to Upper Silesia. Poland will receive as much as 750 billion Zloty (Polish currency). Around 30% these funds must be earmarked for climate purposes. Finances are not the only benefit.

Even before the summit, Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, demanded that part of the payments be made conditional on the declaration by the member states of achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, who last December negotiated that Poland will do it at its own pace, strongly opposed this. Ultimately, this condition did not appear in the summit's final records. Poland, and mainly Upper Silesia, gained time to modernize the economy.

For technological and financial reasons, Poland will not achieve climate neutrality within the time frame imposed by Brussels. There is a gap between the Western countries and Poland when it comes to organizing energy. There is no logical rationale for using a single measure of achieving the EU's climate goals. Perhaps Poland's determination to defend its own pace of energy transformation will open the eyes of EU officials. After all, the Green Deal is not such a simple procedure as changing the time from "winter" to "summer time" (Daylight Saving Time), where only a human decision is needed. Moving towards climate neutrality is a complex, austerity based process where not everything is certain and known yet. This is what the Polish delegation wanted to say during the summit in Brussels and it is to be hoped that this truth reached their partners.

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