Home to EU’s fifth largest population and birthplace of minds like Marie Curie or Nicolas Copernicus, Poland now positions itself as an economic powerhouse. In 2017 the country was deemed developed by FTSE Russell which makes it the first country to earn an upgrade in the past decade. It also puts Poland in the company of developed economies like France, Austria, Denmark or Hong Kong.
Its journey thus far is captivating, but also anything but easy: “Poland is a nation that has experienced truly tough times - we lived under occupation, lived through WWII. This, among other reasons, is why we are strong and united today. Coronavirus is the latest challenge we are dealing with but I’m convinced that we will survive and these difficulties will make us even stronger. It will not have any influence on our strategic plans, especially on projected growth in our energy sector and on investment projects.” mentioned Zbigniew Gryglas, Undersecretary of State, Ministry of State Assets.
Indeed Warsaw emerged from the ashes of WWII and is now the capital of one of Europe’s most dynamic economies, attracting foreign labor to fill its growing needs. Additionally, it holds an unbroken GDP growth streak of 30 years, now put to the test by the strenuous COVID-19 outbreak.
The energy sector in Poland is riddled with similar complexities. While known for being heavily coal reliant to this day, it started out with a 99% coal dependency in the early 1990s.
This was deemed necessary at the time and on the upside did fuel an intense process of industrialization and economic growth. On the downside though, the air has become harder to breathe and bills have gotten more expensive in light of the green path pursued by the rest of Europe. Macron openly criticized Poland’s lingering affiliation with fossil fuels and the European Commission's regulation are turning the heat up.
The EU has taken an unshakable stance as a pioneer in carbon neutrality with its zero emission targets by 2050 laid out in the Green New Deal. And despite the occasional ping pong, Poland is a pillar of the regional economy, actively participating in policy making and the largest recipient of EU Cohesion and Structural Funds under the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework.
In order to keep reaping the benefits and stay in the game, the dilemma facing Poland more than most is how to find the sweet spot between going green (enough) by 2050, whilst still providing the socio-economic advantages and security its citizens have become accustomed to.
READ FULL REPORT: Poland's Energy Industry 2020
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