• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Energy experts fear Poland will turn to ‘dirty coal’ after Russia cuts off gas supplies

·3-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Russian energy giant Gazprom has completely cut off gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria.

Both countries are apparently being punished for refusing Russia’s demand that they pay for their gas in roubles and their support of Ukraine.

The halt of natural gas transfers is the latest escalation of tensions between Russia and the west amid the war in Ukraine. Moscow has suggested it could cease supplying gas to other European customers.

The move has sparked speculation that Poland, Bulgaria and other European nations will invest in renewable technology to reduce reliance on imported energy.

Dr Alexander Mihailov, associate professor in economics at the University of Reading, said Moscow’s actions would act as a “catalyst” for renewables but European allies would pick up the slack on fossil fuel supply initially.

Gazprombank is not subject to sanctions by the EU, and operating in Switzerland is facilitating rouble payments to Russia for gas for EU countries (REUTERS)
Gazprombank is not subject to sanctions by the EU, and operating in Switzerland is facilitating rouble payments to Russia for gas for EU countries (REUTERS)

He said: “I don’t think anything will change in the short-term, it is premature to talk about a shift to renewable energy.

“The EU will be trying to mitigate the consequences of the switch away from Russian oil, but if the urgent situation isn’t resolved there could be a return to fossil fuels that are polluting.”

Climate scientist Dr Ella Gilbert, a climate modeller for the British Antarctic Survey, said the move away from Russian fossil fuels was an opportunity for greater uptake of renewables, but also fears that countries like Poland will turn to dirtier fossil fuels such as coal or shale gas if they struggle to keep the lights on.

Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki at the gas station of Gaz-System in Rembelszczyzna, near Warsaw (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Poland's prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki at the gas station of Gaz-System in Rembelszczyzna, near Warsaw (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

She said: “This crisis highlights that instead of being the dependable energy source it is always billed as, gas is subject to geopolitical volatility.

“Producing energy from sources that are unaffected by world events like solar, wind, water and geothermal is a much more reliable and sustainable alternative.

“To avoid the worst consequences of climate change, including coastline-changing amounts of sea level rise from ice loss from the polar regions, extreme weather conditions, heatwaves, flooding, wildfires and more, we must dramatically upscale our ambition when it comes to renewable energy sources.

“While we can’t go cold turkey on fossil fuels overnight, we should seize this as an opportunity to rapidly move away from dirty oil, coal and gas, and towards greener alternatives.”

Vladimir Putin has threatened to cut off gas to other countries (AP)
Vladimir Putin has threatened to cut off gas to other countries (AP)

Author and climate campaigner Professor Mark Maslin said: “The EU have already announced they will triple the amount of renewable energy capacity developed in the next 10 years in response to energy security.

“However, Poland may revert back to dirty coal as they have huge reserves – which will cause a spike in their carbon emissions.”

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said there was “complacency” from the government on energy security and a “sprint” to renewable sources was needed.

He said Poland and Bulgaria deserved Britain’s “full solidarity” after Russia turned off the taps.

Mr Reynolds said Labour’s policy of a windfall tax on oil and gas companies would help households with their energy bills.

Discussing the European gas supply situation, he added: “We should show full solidarity with our European friends and allies who have been facing this kind of aggression from Russia.

“And we’ve known that the Russians use energy policy as a tool of that aggression.

“What we need to see is, first of all, a shake-up of some of the complacency that we see from the Conservative government.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting