17 Nov 2023, 13:00

CLEW Guide – Poland’s incoming coalition government promises to speed up energy transition

A broad liberal/left coalition won the Polish election on 15 October 2023 and is taking power with the promise to "repair" what it regards as mistakes of the previous conservative government. That includes climate policy and the energy transition. The new coalition wants to "speed up" the green transition, build out more renewables, invest in the grid and energy efficiency, and strengthen nature conservation measures. However, a number of roadblocks stand in the way of the bold promises. Energy prices and inflation are hitting citizens and businesses hard. Poland's electricity sector is still dominated by coal. While citizens hold high expectations for government improvements in all areas — from the judicial system to schools, from the army to forestry — the government must also deal with questions of energy, especially with coal plants reaching the end of their lifespans and the EU's Green Deal due to be implemented further in the next years. [UPDATES throughout]
Demonstrations in Warsaw/Poland, Summer 2023. Credit: Grand-Warszawski, Shutterstock
Demonstrations in Warsaw/Poland, Summer 2023. Credit: Grand-Warszawski, Shutterstock

With its “CLEW Guide” series, the Clean Energy Wire newsroom and contributors from across Europe are providing journalists with a bird's-eye view of the climate-friendly transition from key countries and the bloc as a whole. You can also sign up to the weekly newsletter here to receive our "Dispatch from..." – weekly updates from Germany, France, Italy, Croatia, Poland and the EU on the need-to-know about the continent’s move to climate neutrality.



  1. Key background
  2. Major transition stories
  3. Sector overview


Key background

  • The liberal, pro-European opposition in Poland won the vote on 15 October, following a record turnout (74.4%), and formed a multi-party majority in parliament. While PiS gained the largest share of the vote of any part, with 35.4 percent, after 8 years in power it now lacked the necessary votes to form a majority government with other parties. The new coalition is made up of former European Council president Donald Tusk's Civic Coalition (30.7 %), the Third Way (14.4 %) and the Left (8.6 %). News media called the results a "political earthquake" which "delights Brussels,” as the possible incoming coalition is much more pro-European than the current government has been. In the coalition agreement, the parties promise to fight climate change and speed up the energy transition.

  • Poland was responsible for about 12% of total EU GHG emissions in 2021. Carbon emissions have fallen over 30% since peaking in the 1980s. Most of the reductions took place in the 1990s along with the fall of communism and a shift away from an industrial, planned economy. Emissions levels have not changed significantly since 2001. Poland's current greenhouse gas emission reduction target in the EU for 2030 (for domestic transport, buildings, agriculture, small industry and waste) is 17,7 % compared to 2005. It's far less than countries like Germany or Denmark (50%), but Poland's total emission in 2021 were actually slightly higher compared to 2005.

  • With electricity generation strongly reliant on coal, Poland’s power sector has the highest carbon intensity of any in the European Union, making the coal phase-out a key challenge. Poland’s energy sector is dominated by big, state-owned or partially state-owned companies, like oil corporation Orlen or Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), an energy company which owns coal plants and mines.

  • Poland managed to diversify its supply of gas, oil, and coal, from being heavily reliant on imports from Russia. Yet, subsidies to keep gas and electricity prices down will cost the state tens of billion of euros. Electricity costs are likely to rise, not just with fuel prices but also as part of the EU ETS being an increasing burden for the coal-reliant energy system.

  • Drought is a main concern when it comes to the effects of climate change in Poland, with threats to agriculture and forestry sectors, which are both important for Poland’s economy.

  • Air pollution is a major public health concern, fuelled not just by cars, but also furnaces, as no other EU country uses nearly as much coal for heating.

Graph shows Poland's greenhouse gas emissions by sector from 1990-2021. Graph: CLEW.
Graph: CLEW/Narawad.

Major transition stories

Sector overview

Graph shows Poland's energy consumption by source 1990-2022. Graph: CLEW.
Graph: CLEW/Narawad.


  • Responsible for 47.8% of total GHG emissions in 2021
  • In 2022, coal was the main source of electricity, producing 69% (largest proportion by far in the EU), with wind and solar generating 15.5%. The lignite plant PGE Bełchatów is the EU's highest emitting power plant. In the period from June to August 2023, wind and solar generation rose to 23-26%, mainly due to newly installed PV capacity.
  • Poland plans a gradual phase-out of coal, replacing it with a mix of renewables and nuclear generation. New fossil gas plants are also to be built, but some plans have been revised after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
  • In 2021, Poland adopted the Energy policy of Poland until 2040 (PEP2040) programme. The main targets are; 32% of renewables in electricity generation and no more than 56% of power from coal by 2030; the first nuclear power plant starting operation in 2033. The plan has been criticized by NGOs and parliamentary opposition as “unrealistic,” for example the PV target for 2030 is 7 GW, but already in 2023 Poland produced over 14 GW.
  • This year, the climate ministry proposed an update to EPP2040, with increased renewable targets and low- and zero-emissions sources covering 73 percent of demand by 2040. However, the new document was not adopted by the government due to internal disputes. The new ruling majority will put forward new plans, but for now there is no timeline for when to expect them.





Land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF)

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