• Mateusz Medyński

Green revolution likely to behead Polish exporters

More and more cities and companies pledge zero emission goal in the near future. It is a noble cause and one worthy or praise, but in light of the recent green revolution many voices of criticism must also be heard. Voices which increasingly mention Poland.

In this case the questions posed by critics are very serious and very accurate. For example New York wants to be zero emission city by 2050. In this case it means all NY electricity will come from renewable sources. Many manufacturing companies in the world will soon be likely to follow, as green is the new black (taking into consideration that the survival of the human race is at stake, I think this is a very reasonable move, if it is not too late entirely). So we’re all going green. That’s a good thing, right?

And now the real question is, whether zero emission goals set currently are real strategies to combat climate change or just a publicity stunt. In New York’s case, critics have rightly pointed out that energy from renewable sources does not equal zero emission. What about the millions of goods and services that New Your consumes daily and which come from outside? Will they be checked for zero emission also? And what if they come from places where the environmental cost of creating them is much higher? Are we green when we buy products or services from polluters?

Now what this means in practice is a more complex environmental agenda for all companies. If a car manufacturer wishes to pose as an eco-friendly company (and surely all of world’s carmakers will) it must not only ensure that the company itself does not endanger the environment but all its suppliers as well. Otherwise it is just empty PR. People already know the difference between real change and advertised one and they will monitor each company closely. The carbon footprint of manufacturing parts and providing services for a supposedly green company must also be green.

And here is the problem for Poland. We get all almost our energy from coal and thanks to government policy will continue to do so in the future. We are a major supplier of parts and services for German producers, and Germany is quickly going green. A car battery produced in Norway, where energy comes from mostly renewable sources produces approx. 350 kg of carbon emissions, whereas the production of that same battery (which will then go into an electric car of an eco friendly manufacturer) in Poland causes 8 tons of carbon emissions, due to the ecological cost of Polish energy. This particular comparison appeared in an article in the Economist last year, so the world knows how the process works and will pay attention.

What will all the Polish manufacturers do if their biggest clients, in order to meet ambitious green targets (which they surely will need to set – otherwise they are out of the global game) challenge the polluting source of Polish energy? Poland will not go green in 5 years, there is no way to switch to renewable energy that fast (and in the meantime we are going the other way, staking the well-being of the economy on coal, not smart if you ask me). Although we are importing more and more energy from abroad where renewable energy is cheaper, one cannot count on our neighbors creating 100% of Polish power instead of Polish power plants, there are simply not enough energy sources out there.

Therefore if the world starts counting carbon in each part and service, Polish producers will either need to switch to alternative energy means (go off the grid, e.g. build their own renewable power plants to power their manufacturing needs) or lose their customers. Of course there will always be those companies, who just don’t care about the environment, but their clients will care more and more, which means more money for green companies and less for the polluters. If we stick to dirty energy, we risk losing our biggest advantage in Europe – cheap parts and services (they will still be economically cheap, but ecologically expensive – which in the long run will matter more) and therefore risk an export crisis.

This may not happen within the next 2 years, but will happen eventually. You may disagree with it, but the decisions have already been made and all we can do now is wait. We can wait sitting on our hands or try to do something (like try to convince the government to start switching to green power) before it is too late and the economy goes down the drain.

For more interesting facts, please see this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/18/nyregion/greenhouse-gases-ny.html

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