10 May 2024, 13:00

CLEW Guide – NGOs become disillusioned with Poland’s new government

No major changes to Poland's climate policy have been delivered by the new liberal/left coalition government with Donald Tusk as prime minister after taking office in December 2023. The new coalition promised 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. And in the first months, the government was focused on issues like delivering EU funds blocked during the rule of the far-right Law and Justice (PiS) party. Update to strategic documents or new legislation are yet to be seen. The first months of 2024 were also marked by big farmers' protests, much like in other EU countries, and Tusk promised to negotiate changes to the EU Green Deal on their behalf.  [UPDATES to add first Recovery Fund payment]
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.

(With contributions by Wojciech Jakóbik)



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


Key background

  • The liberal, pro-European opposition in Poland won the election on 15 October. The new coalition, made up of former European Council president Donald Tusk's Civic Coalition (30.7 percent), the Third Way (14.4 percent) and the Left (8.6 percent), formed a government in December 2023. In the first months, it has not delivered on promises of presenting a plan of a speed-up of the energy transition. A partial update to the National energy and climate plan (mandated under the EU) was delivered, but the document is far from the final version and presents a rather conservative look into the energy transition until 2030.

  • Poland was responsible for about 12% of total EU GHG emissions in 2021. Carbon emissions have fallen over 30 percent 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 percent 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.

  • In 2023, Poland saw a significant drop in the share of coal in the electricity mix, from 70 percent the previous year to 61 percent. But even with the rise in renewables, electricity generation remains strongly reliant on coal. Poland’s power sector has the highest carbon intensity in the European Union, making the coal phase-out a key challenge. The country’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 that owns coal plants and mines.

  • Poland managed to diversify its supply of gas, oil, and coal, after being heavily reliant on imports from Russia. In 2023, subsidies were put in place to keep gas and electricity prices down - but the cost for the state was tens of billion of euros. The new government extended the subsidy into the first half of 2024. With wholesale price falling to levels seen before the energy crisis, the Climate Ministry assures most consumers will see a moderate rise of their bills from July (around 8 euros, or 15-20% of an average bill), and vulnerable households will get some form of subsidy.

  • Drought is a main concern when it comes to the effects of climate change in Poland, with threats to the agriculture and forestry sectors, which are both important for its economy. The winter of 2024 has been, however, very wet, so at least for the first months of the year the prospect of drought is reduced.

  • 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

  • An end to conflicts with the EU – The two terms of the PiS/United Right rule were marked by many conflicts with the EU, centred around the rule of law and Poland's opposition to parts of the Green Deal. Many changes made by PiS to Poland’s legal system remain in place. But the European Commission assessed the measures taken so far by Donald Tusk’s government and agreed to unblock money from the Recovery and Resilience Fund. The first payment was announced on 15 April, consisting of 6.3 billion euros (from a total of planned €60bn). Much of the total money will go to energy transition, like subsidies for heater replacements and insulation, as well as offshore wind farms. This is expected to boost Poland's energy transition. 

Sector overview

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


  • Responsible for 47.8 percent of total GHG emissions in 2021

  • In 2023, coal was the main source of electricity (61 percent). It remained the largest proportion by far in the EU, despite the significant drop from 70 percent in 2022. Wind and solar rose from almost 16 percent to 21 percent and renewables in total reached 27 percent. The lignite plant PGE Bełchatów is the EU's highest emitting power plant, but now it has a plan to close down gradually until 2036 (with a 77% reduction until 2030).

  • 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 theEnergy policy of Poland until 2040 (PEP2040) programme with the following main targets: 32 percent of renewables in electricity generation and no more than 56 percent of power from coal by 2030, and the first nuclear power plant starting operation in 2033. The plan has been criticized by NGOs and parliamentary opposition as “unrealistic.” Donald Tusk’s government, ruling since December 2023, is working on an update to the document, expected to be presented in the second half of 2024.

  • In a draft for an update of Poland’s National energy and climate plan, presented to the European Commission, the climate ministry shows a “business as usual” scenario for the energy transition until 2030. In electricity production, it projects 50% of renewable generation by 2030 (compared to 27% in 2023), with a steady rise in solar PV and onshore wind, and first offshore wind farms in the Baltic coming online from 2028. A second, more ambitious scenario will be presented in the second quarter of 2024.





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

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