Climate hypocrisy – are we all subject to it? This is a question that has long troubled both environmentalists and free market advocates. A discussion on this topic took place recently during one of the panels, which included Marcin Kowalczyk, Senior Climate Policy Specialist at WWF, Wojciech Kukuła, Senior Lawyer at ClientEarth Prawnicy dla Ziemi Foundation, Marek Lachowicz, economist, and moderator Jakub Wiech, Editor-in-Chief of Energetyka24.
The conversation was started by the moderator himself, who admitted that as a journalist himself he had been accused of hypocrisy or harming the transition on many occasions. He then asked whether we were indeed all climate hypocrites. Marcin Kowalczyk from WWF noted that there may be many situations in which we could act more effectively to protect the climate, but our actions are step by step to achieve the desired goal of climate neutrality. Wojciech Kukuła, in turn, pointed out that there are some people who are deliberately undermining the sense of leading the transition.
Marek Lachowicz, an economist, said that because there are so many different countries in the European Union, it is difficult to create one set of climate policies that would suit everyone. In his view, Poland, as a country with little influence on the world, will not be able to have the same set of policies as Germany or Spain.
However, Lachowicz said, we can create a new model of consumption that allows for a better life, with less impact on the planet. However, as he noted, our lives are more electrified than before, which means we will have to deal with new challenges.
The topic of profit also came up during the discussion, which many companies prioritise. Lachowicz pointed out that profit has always been important and people have rarely been altruistic. It is hypocritical that some products are penalised and others are subsidised. Therefore, if we subsidise an industry or technology, such companies lose competitiveness from this fact alone.
Some ecosceptics even question the very existence of climate change, which is of course scientifically unfounded. It is worth noting that environmental education in Poland has a lot of catching up to do, and its level leaves much to be desired. Marek Lachowicz points out that we lack not only knowledge, but also the ability to use this knowledge.
Wojciech Kukuła, senior lawyer from the ClientEarth Prawnicy dla Ziemi Foundation, emphasises that decisions taken at the political level are of great importance for pro-environmental activities. He pointed out, for example, the government’s decision to buy a private jet on which the environment minister flew to the climate summit in Madrid.
The fact that one of the most important climate protection people in Poland is flying in a private jet is, for me, a very sad and worrying signal. It is hypocritical, but above all it shows that many people do not take the climate threat seriously and do not prioritise it,” says Kukuła.
During the discussion, the question of who should decide on pro-environmental measures also arose. Marcin Kowalczyk from WWF pointed out that it is necessary for all actors to cooperate:
Decisions taken at local, national and international level have an impact on climate protection. Cooperation between individuals, leaders and society is essential to achieve the desired goals.
The energy transition is still a major challenge in Poland, and failure to implement it brings many costs, both economic and climatic. According to Wojciech Kukuła, senior lawyer at ClientEarth Prawnicy dla Ziemi Foundation, Poland is still dependent on coal, which affects its CO2 emissions. “Last year emissions increased by 0.3%, we have been emitting 400 million tonnes of CO2 continuously since the late 1990s. I think we should be doing more for the climate, our climate targets are lagging behind the EU average,” – he added.
At the same time, Poland is the only country in the European Union where a declaration to achieve climate neutrality has not yet been made in a legal manner. For this reason, a draft law on climate protection was published this week, assuming the achievement of climate neutrality by 2050.
Jakub Wiech asked whether it makes sense to reduce emissions on a global scale when countries such as China can increase their CO2 production at the same time. Kukuła said that the European Union is a leader and pioneer in setting trends for different solutions.
Marcin Kowalczyk, Senior Climate Policy Specialist at WWF, pointed out that there is a lot of talk about the costs of transition, rather than the costs of not implementing it. “The opportunity cost is not just an ETS issue. It’s a question of, first of all, rebuilding our energy system, because these coal-fired power plants that we have at the moment are mostly living out their days. And we have to build something for them. Whether it’s going to be a green transition or whether it’s going to be a different transition, some kind of power system we have to build practically from scratch or refurbish these already outdated coal-fired power plants,” – he explained.
Kowalczyk also expressed the hope that the European Union’s example will be a stimulus for other countries, such as China and India. “We ourselves are committed to being transformational leaders in front of developing countries, and to support them in these transformations”. – he stressed.
It seems that the energy transition debate is still very much alive and still ongoing. However, one thing is certain – changes are needed to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. We can no longer ignore the threats posed by global warming. We must act, and the energy transition is one of the key steps we must take to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and protect our planet.
Two days filled with meetings, more than thirty debates, round table discussions, motivating power speeches, dozens of Polish and foreign experts – this is how the largest environmental event in Central and Eastern Europe – the TOGETAIR 2023 International Climate Summit – is presented. The event is taking place at the Warsaw University Library on 20-21 April.
TOGETAIR 2023 has received prestigious patronage from Polish and foreign institutions, including the President of the European Parliament, Roberta Metsola, and the Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki.
The full agenda of the event including panellists is available at: https://togetair.eu/agenda/
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THANK YOU FOR BEING WITH US – TOGETAIR 2023!
PARTNER STRATEGICZNY: PKN ORLEN PARTNER GŁÓWNY: Bank Gospodarstwa Krajowego, 3W
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PATRONATY INSTYTUCJI EUROPEJSKICH: Komisja Europejska przedstawicielstwo w Polsce, Roberta Metsola, przewodnicząca Parlamentu Europejskiego.
HONOROWY PATRONAT UCZELNI: Uniwersytet Warszawski
HONOROWY PATRONAT: Prezes Rady Ministrów Mateusz Morawiecki
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PATRONATY UCZELNI WYŻSZYCH: Akademia Górniczo-Hutnicza w Krakowie, Polska Akademia Nauk, Politechnika Warszawska, Szkoła Główna Gospodarstwa Wiejskiego, Szkoła Główna Handlowa, Uniwersytet Warszawski
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