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FEATURE STORY

Protecting Climate and Supporting Growth: A Challenge for Poland

February 29, 2016


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The World Bank has supported the Polish government efforts on capacity building in public institutions in the areas of climate policy research and analytical quality. The recent drafting of the National Program for the Development of a Low Carbon Economy, which scrutinizes and analyses all emission reduction instruments, provided an opportunity to evaluate the effectiveness of these efforts.

Emissions of air pollutants have become a major topic for specialized research, political discussions, and everyday conversations.

Carbon dioxide, low-stack emissions, smog, and global warming are all now household terms in Poland and around the world. Emissions have been inextricably linked with our civilization as an old-time companion, but their scale has recently reached a critical level.

While the Paris Agreement, drafted in December of 2015, was an important step in addressing the global climate crisis, key decisions will now need to be taken by governments at the country and local levels.

Experts have developed numerous emission reduction technologies. There are plenty of policies to impact production and consumption level and mix.

It takes top-notch skills and a complex, multidisciplinary analysis to manage such a large number of variables in a society which simultaneously insists on having uninterrupted economic development and an adequate supply of natural resources to meet an ever-increasing demand.


" The transition towards a low emission economy is an opportunity, not a threat. "

Zbigniew Kamieński

Deputy Director, Innovation and Industry Department, Ministry of Development

In an attempt to meet the demand for these new skill sets, the World Bank has supported the Ministry of Economy (currently the Ministry of Economic Development) since 2014 - providing a grant for capacity building in public institutions in the area of climate policy research and analytical quality.

The recent drafting of the new National Program for the Development of a Low Carbon Economy was a proving ground for how effective these grants have been.

This test was passed with flying colors.

“The document, drafted in part thanks to World Bank funding, is the only report of its kind to showcase very close links between the transition to a low emission economy and economic growth. We believe that the Polish economy can become more and more environmentally sensitive and, at the same time, more and more efficient,” says Zbigniew Kamieński, Deputy Director, Innovation and Industry Department, Ministry of Development.

“In other words, the transition towards a low emission economy is an opportunity, not a threat,’ he concluded.

The National Program for the Development of Low-Carbon Economy scrutinizes and analyses all emission reduction instruments, evaluates them, and structures them in order of priority. Importantly, the program proposes a policy of ‘small steps.’

The program emphasizes the idea that everyone can help reduce emissions through actions such as recycling and making more efficient use of energy. The sum of such small steps and individual decisions may be leveraged, providing a significant benefit to environment and sustainable development.

Thanks to both its scope and clarity, the program represents an important educational tool that can be used successfully in conjunction with school textbooks.

For many years now Poland has been concerned that transition towards low-carbon economy may handicap the growth potential of the country and have serious, negative implications for the labor market - especially in the Upper Silesia region, where coal mining dominates the industrial landscape.

Is it possible to reconcile climate protection with economic growth?

According to the National Program, a circular economy should be built, in contrast to the current ‘take-make-consume-dispose’ pattern, which exhausts available resources, increases pollution, and degrades the environment. Reducing the volume of waste, increasing the amount of waste re-used in manufacturing, and generating low-carbon energy can not only help the environment, but may also improve economic competitiveness. 


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