Poland’s government started discussions with utilities and powerful mining unions about speeding up the country’s green transformation, only to hit the first hurdle within hours.
Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin’s proposals were met with skepticism on Tuesday, forcing the European Union’s most coal-dependent country to pivot its approach. The government said it would now set up a task force with industry partners to iron out the path toward a coal-free future.
The specter of a prolonged tug of war, and continued lack of clarity over exactly what was offered, pushed investors away from Warsaw-listed utilities, with the WIG Energy index dropping as much as 3.8%.
“It would be a waste of time to discuss the document, which the unions don’t approve,” State Assets Ministry spokesperson Karol Manys told state news agency PAP after Sasin’s talks with the miners.
The government has kept quiet about the details of its plans for the sector, which local newspapers reported include a target to stop thermal coal production by 2036, the idling of two mines this year and 6.75 billion zloty ($1.8 billion) in state aid and subsidies. Hours after the discussions started, the State Assets Ministry said it hadn’t formally presented a plan as it wasn’t a final draft. Now, the government and unions will work jointly prepare an acceptable solution.
Sasin spoke with PGG SA, the EU’s biggest producer of the fuel, and its unions about going green. The move highlights the policy U-turn made by the government, which won power in 2015 after vowing to keep the Poland running on coal for the foreseeable future.