On November 11-22, Warsaw will host the 19th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, or put simply: the COP 19.
Much to the chagrin of environmental activists and a multitude of other liberal-green voices, it is Poland’s turn to host the summit, although pundits don’t expect anything of substance to come out of the meeting.
It does, however, give Poland a chance to put forward the case for its energy interests.
On the EU stage, Poland has traditionally been seen as a hard-liner when it comes to energy, often infuriating other member states with its attraction to coal: after all, it is the second-largest producer and consumer of coal in the 28-nation bloc, producing an estimated 144 million metric tons in 2012.
Almost 90 percent of Poland’s electrical energy is produced with coal, making it the second-biggest producer of CO2 emissions per capita in the EU. According to the Sobieski Institute, a think tank, Poland’s energy production will remain based on coal for the next two decades.
Yet even with the prospect of energy diversification down the line, Warsaw has to be careful how to reduce its carbon emissions, and it is known to be the main advocate of a balanced approach towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, fearing negative economic impacts.
There is also the historical legacy of coal in Poland, which during the 1970s became the largest producer in Europe and was until 1979 the second-largest exporter worldwide. Eliminating the coal mining industry in Poland is simply not an option.
As such, a new strategy which includes the diversification of energy sources, such as shale gas or nuclear energy, nevertheless must include coal, whether the greens like it or not.
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