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Global Economy

Poland's strangers to EU climate policy

Large posters and facade banners as a whole, internet advertisements and films. The message of the campaign of an association of conventional electricity producers: We owe 60 percent of the energy costs to the EU, EU climate policy = high prices.

The EU denied the number as significantly excessive. On the other hand, it is true that, for example, the heavily increased pollution certificates make electricity really more expensive, especially if, as in Poland, it is still mainly produced by burning coal – which is exactly the point of the trading system within the framework of EU climate policy: so-called "dirty electricity" more expensive in order to create incentives to switch to more environmentally friendly energies.

"I'm worried if my company can take it"

But the already rapidly rising energy prices are now becoming increasingly painful. "Car workshops need a lot of electricity, our devices have a high demand, and here too the increase was several hundred percent," says Andrzej Duch from the Asoduch car dealership near Warsaw.

Not only for electricity, but also for gas, the employer of 48 employees received a massive price increase – and he had switched to gas heating for environmental reasons, Duch complains. "I paid 4,000 zloty for the heating in the company and from January it was suddenly 16,000 zloty, 400 percent more. I'm wondering whether my company can afford it. And it also affects others, there are signals from all over Poland."

Poland's prime minister blames the EU and Russia

In fact, regional newspapers are full of reports about business closures, especially in small manufacturing businesses, flower shops, caterers or corner shops that cannot cope with the higher costs and also complain about a failed tax reform that was supposed to relieve the burden on small people. Polls also show that inflation is the number one concern in Poland.

However, as Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki repeatedly emphasized in line with the posters critical of the EU, the blame for the price hikes lies with external forces: "Every Pole has the right to find out the truth here. You have to fight for the climate, but it is Is that the right way? I have doubts about that, and I'm even convinced that it's the wrong way, because Russia's climate policy and gas policy are emptying the pockets of the Poles."

Marcin Kowalczyk, climate expert at the environmental association WWF, contradicts: The EU climate policy is not suitable as a scapegoat, after all it has long been known that conventional energy is more heavily burdened. "The fact that such sums are spent on buying emission certificates is a result of the neglect of the problem by this government, as well as by its predecessors."

Billions for pollution rights flow into the budget

Apart from the question of how much EU is really in the prices, people in Poland like to ignore the fact that the billions for pollution rights in the country do not flow "to Brussels" but into the Polish state budget. They can be used to cushion hardship or to support the expansion of alternative energies.

Instead, the government decided in the acute emergency to reduce taxes on conventional energy. But the force with which the costs of electricity production, which is still heavily based on coal, now have an impact, cushions this only moderately. "We don't need a revolution, we need evolution over a longer period of time. It's unacceptable that we'll wake up one day and think we can't turn on the light anymore," says car dealer Duch.

A thought that could soon be on the minds of millions of private individuals. Because in the regulated business with private electricity customers, higher bills are yet to come. The regulator has already approved significant tariff jumps for the next billing periods.

Habeck on talks in Warsaw

Ironically, at this very tense time, Economics Minister Robert Habeck is traveling to Warsaw today for talks on climate and energy policy. There he will meet, among others, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for State Treasury Jacek Sasin and Minister for Climate and Environment Anna Moskwa.

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