Going global and remaining local: challenges of Poland in implementing climate change policies

RUW Foundation and the Rural Sociology Group organized a studytrip to Poland. In a 10 day intensive program different cities and rural areas in Poland were visited, interesting people and organizations met and farm work is done. The theme of the trip is “Glocalise”. Students are asked to prepare themselves well on different themes in groups before leaving and to write a concluding reflexive paper on their impressions and findings, and to write a blog. This is first is posted by:

Caroline Lumosi, MSc-student Forest and Nature Conservation.

The first day saw us spend time learning about nature conservation in Poland. We focussed on climate change policies and agriculture. Poland faces challenges in implementing regional EU climate change policies in relation to implementing its national regulations on energy and economic development. Poland relies on the use of coal to support 90% its electricity. As the EU moves to cut down on its carbon emission, this in turn means focus is put on use of renewable energy sources. For Poland, and in particular the city of Warsaw, this presents a huge challenge as the city heavily relies on the use of coal for electricity, in transport and in household heating.

We were able to hold discussions with representatives from the government (Mayor’s office) as well as a local NGO (WWF-Poland). What came out clearly from these discussions is the low awareness level from the general public on climate change matters. A large percentage of the population still believes climate change is a hoax. This has translated to low political will to tackle climate related issues. One major obstacle to this at the national level is the influence of the energy companies who hold a majority vote/ say in regards to economic development, jobs, and political goodwill. It is clear that the energy companies who rely on coal will not be ready to back up EU climate policies that favour reduction of fossil fuels  (coal).

In the midst of all this, there seems to be a light at the end of this dark tunnel. There is talk of the potential of biomass as an alternative source of energy. Biomass can be sourced from the high agricultural input in the country. Although questions still rise on its sustainability, all in all it’s a path worth exploring.