Economic development requires the development and availability of infrastructure. The increasing number of investment sites is an
an opportunity for local communities and businesses. Are the state and local authorities responding properly
to the demand? Will the approaching economic recession hinder the processes of preparing land for
investment areas? What obstacles do infrastructure providers face: utilities, telecommunications,
energy? On the subject of balancing the availability of infrastructure with environmental protection
talked to Agata Śmieja, President of the Clean Air Foundation: Magdalena Kapuścińska, Deputy Director of the
General Director for Real Estate and Procurement of the State Forests, Ireneusz Zyska, Secretary of State at the
Ministry of Climate and Environment and Dariusz Sobków, Polish Ambassador to the European Union. The debate
took place during the 4th International Climate Summit TOGETAIR 2023.
Poland is one of the biggest green energy potentates in Europe, as a result of the actions
undertaken by the government and investments in transmission and distribution networks and energy storage facilities. Such conclusions
come from a debate held in Warsaw with the participation of key representatives of the RES industry and the government.
According to Ireneusz Zyska, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Climate and Environment, the importance of investments in RES
has changed over the past three years. “Just three years ago, the answer to this question would have been: the most important
is the construction of generation sources. Photovoltaic farms, biogas plants, geothermal and so on. Today, to this question
I answer: the most important investments are in transmission networks, distribution networks and energy storage,” – he said.
Zyska also emphasised that over the past three years Poland has increased its capacity to generate energy from RES
more than three times, and is currently expanding transmission networks. “Now it is time for distribution and transmission networks,
mainly in urban agglomerations. These networks must be designed so that energy can be transmitted
in two directions to allow trading between prosumers,” – he said.
The second important area for Poland is energy storage facilities, which will allow for system stabilisation. “They will allow
to accumulate energy from RES and release it into the system in the event of a voltage drop,” – Zyska said. The Polish
government is currently allocating as much as PLN 52 billion for the expansion of the transmission network, and in the next few years it will be more than
PLN 100 billion.
According to government representatives, Poland can become the energy granary of Europe thanks to its
hydrogen potential. “We have great potential for this. In many places in Poland we have the conditions for
build storage facilities for hydrogen, which will be equivalent to electricity thanks to the launch of
large-scale energy cells,” – said the government representative.
In addition, experts from Hydrogen Europe placed Poland third on the list of countries with the greatest
“hydrogen potential”. “Hydrogen valleys are being created, i.e. consortia of large companies such as PKN Orlen,
Tauron. The best Polish universities, research institutions, government and
local governments. Experts from Hydrogen Europe have placed us third on the list of countries with the greatest
THE ROLE OF FORESTS IN CLIMATE POLICY
Poland, as a country with rich forest resources, has a special responsibility here. Magdalena Kapuścińska,
Deputy Director General for Real Estate and Procurement, emphasises that the State Forests in Poland
account for approximately ⅓ of the country’s area and their maintenance in good condition is crucial to maintaining the ecological balance.
ecological balance. Over the past 10 years, only a small part of the forests has been dedicated to
infrastructure, and in the last year there has been a focus on buying up agricultural land to speed up the process of
However, as Dariusz Sobków, Poland’s ambassador to the European Union, stresses, maintaining forests should not be
be treated as an end in itself. In the face of growing energy and infrastructure needs, it is necessary to
flexibility and balance in policy to protect both the environment and economic interests.
The ambassador notes that a country that loses its forests also loses its credibility and care for its own
security. On the other hand, the development of infrastructure is inevitable and necessary, so it is necessary to look for
alternative energy sources, such as geothermal, which provides many benefits without harming nature.
Faced with the new challenges of climate diplomacy, politicians have many
difficult decisions to make. Introducing new technologies and developing flexible policies is a
challenge that must be addressed with determination and knowledge. Forests, as an important element of climate policy,
represent not only a natural barrier to climate change, but also a source of valuable raw materials and protection
for animals and vegetation. A policy of sustainable development and environmental protection is necessary to ensure a
future for our planet and for future generations.
INVESTING IN STATE FORESTS
Forests are one of our country’s most valuable assets, both because of their importance for the
environment and for the economy. Therefore, the State Forests are guided by two objectives – caring for forests and
efficient forest management.
One of the key activities of the State Forests is to intensify activities enabling the planting of new trees
trees and to ensure that their voice is heard in the dialogue on various investments such as roads or power lines.
power lines. As Magdalena Kapuścińska emphasises, “Every investment that supports our economic development
economic development, is also an investment of the State Forests through the fact that we administer ⅓ of the state’s land.
Each such investment is very important. We consult each one in order to make it successful and to save
Dariusz Sobków, in turn, emphasises that the State Forests represent more than 25,000 employees, 2.5% of the GDP and the entire industry of
timber industry, which also includes companies related to wood processing. It is a huge structure, which consists of
made up of 429 forest districts and a 100-year tradition of achievements by many generations of foresters. “We are facing formidable
challenges, but statistics show that we are rising to the challenge. We are continuously increasing forest cover,
We are carrying out model forest management. We are making sure that infrastructure investments are possible.
We would like to maintain this state of affairs,” – Sobków said.
As the Ambassador pointed out, the issue of environmental protection is part of national security.
We have a huge area of forest that has not been privatised, as in other countries. In Lithuania or Belgium, about
half of the forests are in private hands, which carries the risk of a lack of control over these areas. More than 100
thousand people, apart from foresters, make their living from forests, which shows their great importance for society as a whole.
Andrzej Sobków emphasised that one of the most important tasks of the State Forests is the sustainable development of the
sustainable development of forests, i.e. such which takes into account the needs of the environment, but at the same time allows for economic use of forest resources.
forest resources in an economic manner.
According to the representatives of the State Forests, their role is extremely important for the protection of the
environment and the implementation of economic objectives. Due to the fact that they administer 1/3 of the state’s land, they have an influence on
many infrastructural investments, but at the same time they take care of the sustainable development of forests. It is worth noting that
their activities contribute not only to environmental protection, but also to job creation and the
development of the timber industry.
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 International Climate Summit TOGETAIR 2023 – is presented. The event takes place at the University of Warsaw 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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