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Questions about the project

What are the differences between the project names Energy aNew and Implementation of Sustainable Development based on Socially Responsible Transformation (LIFE_WZROST_PL)?

Implementation of Sustainable Development based on Socially Responsible Transformation (LIFE_WZROST_PL) is the formal name of the project. Energy aNew is the name for communication purposes. The name Energy aNew presents several fundamental slogan elements of the project:

–    We need a change in the way energy is generated and used.

–    We need new energy to act for sustainable development

What is the purpose of the Energy aNew project?

The main goal of the project is to raise awareness of the Polish society, including politicians, that climate policy is a chance for growth, not a threat.

As part of the project, we prepared a documentary comprising of 10 episodes. The film shows the possibilities of Poland’s sustainable development, in accordance with the necessary reduction of emissions of greenhouse gases. The episodes air on on TV, and the film, apart from the premiere, is being presented during Roadshows (8 Polish cities + Berlin and Brussels).

Additionally, a substantive merit document is prepared, including the data and sources of the data presented in the film.

Who funds the project Energy aNew?

The project is financed by: the European Union (approximately 60%) as part of the LIFE fund, the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (approximately 30%) and bye the project co-beneficiaries (10%).

Who is the project’s coordinator?

The project was initiated by WWF Poland, which is also its coordinator.

Who made the film?

VisionHouse  created the film, with the help of the project experts.

Where will it be possible to see the film made as part of the project?

The film has been presented free-of-charge during Roadshows. The film and the 10 short episode docu-series air on TV and in the Internet (https://www.youtube.com/user/WWFPolska).

Why is the climate getting warmer?

Currently, the climate is getting warmer due to the increase in concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mainly carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitric oxide (N2O)). Greenhouse gases trap a part of the energy radiated by Earth into the atmosphere. The more greenhouse gases, the more energy stays in the Earth’s climate system. Before the industrial era (before 1850) the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere was approximately 280 ppm (parts per million), while currently it is approximately 400 ppm. The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is increasing mostly due to emissions from burning fossil fuels. As fossil fuels were naturally deposited under ground millions of years ago, their mining and burning causes a disturbance in the natural circulation of carbon in nature, which meanwhile was stabilized.

What does the acronym RES stand for?

RES stands for Renewable Energy Sources.

What evidence is there that climate change is really taking place?

Scientific institutions throughout the world gather evidence for climate change. They include weather observations (specifically land, satellite and underwater temperature measurements and statistics of extreme phenomena), measurements of changes in sea level, observations of shrinking ice caps, observations of changes in the plants’ growth areas and animal habitats, displacement of the seasons of the year etc. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC, collects information from the published relevant studies and presents it in its reports.

–       The Summary for Policymakers on The Physical Science Basis, in Polish, is available here: http://ipcc.ch/pdf/reports-nonUN-translations/polish/ar5-wg1-spm.pdf

–       All IPCC publications are available here: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/

Also, the information available on the website naukaoklimacie.pl is bound to be helpful.

Some scientists claim that global warming is a natural process and that it is not a consequence of human actions. Is that true?

The fact that humans are responsible for global warming is evident and proven by numerous experimental evidence: the results of satellite measurements of the Earth’s thermal radiation, measurements of thermal radiation of the atmosphere reaching the planet’s surface, measurements of the isotopic composition of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and many others. http://naukaoklimacie.pl/fakty-i-mity/mit-nie-ma-empirycznych-dowodow-na-antropogenicznosc-globalnego-ocieplenia-41?t=2

An analysis of scientific publications shows that 98.4% of scientists dealing with climate agree as to the “human induced” climate change, and that with time, the number of scientists negating the anthropogenic influence on the climate decreases. The results of this review are available here: http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/8/2/024024/meta;jsessionid=0DDA9AB9A10BA53053E74654A6C6B90E.c5.iopscience.cld.iop.org

It should be also noted that there is no internationally renowned scientific institution which currently questions the influence of humans on the current climate change. It is also worth to examine the list of institutions, including Polish ones, that participated in the preparation of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report. Perhaps you will find your institution on the list? https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/ar5/ar5_authors_review_editors_updated.pdf

No natural cycle (Earth’s orbital changes, changes in solar activity, changes in sea currents, and others) can explain the currently ongoing, astonishingly rapid change http://naukaoklimacie.pl/fakty-i-mity/mit-to-naturalny-cykl-wzrostu-i-spadku-temperatur-50.

What will happen to the climate and our planet if we do not start changing our actions? What are the consequences of staying with the current energy system?

If we do not stop global warming, we will face a world which will be harder and harder to live in. We have already been experiencing more frequent anomalies and extreme weather phenomena. These phenomena will escalate. Additionally, the sea level is going to rise and climate zones will shift. The vision of unabated emissions and climate change is the vision of immersed island states, flooded coastal urban complexes, dry land – all leading to: mass migration. As far as nature is concerned, this will mean the necessity for animals and plants to adjust to new conditions (also migration), or simply, extinction. In normal conditions, with temperature changing slowly, throughout tens and hundreds of thousands of years, nature had time for adjustment and evolve. Nowadays, these dynamic changes do not give any such chances. Read more: https://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar5/syr/SYR_AR5_FINAL_full.pdf

Which energy sources are renewable, and which are non-renewable?

Renewable energy sources are the ones naturally present and able to regenerate quickly, e.g. wind, solar energy, sea currents, biomass (e.g. dry – energetic willow, or liquid –manure), sea tides, geothermal energy.

Non-renewable sources include uranium, natural gas, oil and coal. If we use biomass (e.g. wood) to generate energy, and we do not renew the biomass (we cut trees for burning, but we do not plant new ones), this also becomes a non-renewable energy source. Unfortunately, biomass is becoming much less of an alternative nowadays due to the lengthy process of CO2 abatement and the very little time we have to halt net-emissions. It is important to use biomass responsibly and sustainably.

What are non-emissive energy sources?

Non-emissive energy sources do not cause emissions of pollutions to the environment in the process of generating energy. Except for simple biomass, they include all renewable energy sources. Technologies, which use non-emissive energy sources include e.g. photovoltaic panels (they use solar energy to generate electricity), solar thermal collectors (they use solar energy to heat up water), land and sea wind turbines (they use wind power to generate electricity), biomass-to-gas boilers (they burn biomass to heat up water in order to generate thermal energy and/or electricity).

What is the Climate & Energy Package?

The Climate & Energy Package is a collection of EU regulations meant to guarantee the reduction of emission of greenhouse gases throughout the European Union (by 20% in comparison to 1990), increase energy efficiency (by 20% in comparison to prognoses), and increase the proportion of renewable energy in energy consumption to 20% by 2020. The emissions trading scheme (EU-ETS), emission limits for sectors not included in EU-ETS, energy efficiency directive and the directive on promoting renewable energy sources are in place as part of the package. In October 2014, EU member states agreed to determine climate goals for 2030, with the expected reduction of greenhouse gases by at least 40%, increase in the use of RES to 27% and increase in energy efficiency by 27%. It should be noted that these are mid-term goals that, in further perspective, are to lead to climate neutrality, pursuant to the Paris Agreement. This means that climate and energy goals in time will need to proportionally reflect the necessary reductions.

What is the Paris Agreement?

The Paris Agreement is an agreement between parties to the UN Climate Convention. Pursuant to the Paris Agreement from 2015, the goal of climate policy is to stop climate warming below 2 Celsius degrees in comparison to the pre-industrial age, with the perspective to prevent the temperature rising by 1.5 degrees. This means it is necessary to eliminate anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century (i.a. by balancing them with abatement, e.g. by forests and emission storage technologies), i.e. achieving climate neutrality. More information is available on the official website of the Climate Convention: http://unfccc.int/paris_agreement/items/9485.php

What is climate policy and why do we need it?

Climate policy is a strategic policy framework at an international level (e.g. Climate Convention – the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), in the European Union (e.g. climate & energy package), and on a national level (including the collection of laws implementing the EU climate package, e.g. the Act on the greenhouse gas emission allowance trading scheme). Climate policy is necessary to shift global development towards a low emission pathway. Pursuant to the Paris Agreement from 2015, the goal of climate policy is to stop climate warming below 20C in comparison to the pre-industrial era, with the perspective to prevent the temperature rising by 1.50C. This means it is necessary to eliminate anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases by mid-century (i.a. by balancing them with abatement, e.g. by forests and emission storage technologies), i.e. achieving climate neutrality.

How polluted is air in Poland in comparison to other countries?

All countries deal with the issue of environmental protection. Poland, since the transformation from a centrally planned economy to a free market economy, has significantly reduced pollution emissions. However, this does not mean that the efforts in this respect have ceased. The quality of air in Poland needs to be significantly improved, and in comparison to the EU countries we are one of the most polluted countries. Statistics concerning air pollution have been prepared by the World Health Organisation and they are available here: http://www.who.int/phe/health_topics/outdoorair/databases/cities/en/

More information about the state of air pollution in Poland is available on the website of HEAL Polska: http://healpolska.pl/zrodla_zanieczyszczen/

and on the website of KOBIZE (the National Centre for Emissions Management): http://www.kobize.pl/uploads/materialy/materialy_do_pobrania/krajowa_inwentaryzacja_emisji/NIR_2016_POL_Streszczenie_05.2016.pdf

How are renewable energy sources used in Poland in comparison to other countries?

In 2014, in Poland, 11.4% of RES energy was used in end-user consumption. E.g. in Germany, in the same year, this portion was 13.8% and in Belgium – 8%. The record proportion of RES among the EU countries was that of Sweden: 52.6%. We should remember that the statistics concerning the RES goals are related to electricity, thermal energy and transport. Data is available here: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/File:Renewables_shares_summary_new.png

For how many years will current coal resources last in Poland?

Despite the fact that we have a lot of physical coal resources in Poland, its mining is becoming more and more expensive (in the case of hard coal), and opening new open-pit mines (lignite) would be connected to enormous social and environmental costs. We have to differentiate the balance between geological resources (great quantities of coal in the ground) and industrial resources (profitable to mine and geologically available). According to the data presented by dr Wilczyński (the former Chief National Geologist), it can be expected that the year-to-year capabilities to exploit coal will diminish, and in 2050 they will reach almost zero. Materials worth reading: http://oweglu.pl/content/dr_Michal_Wilczynski_Wegiel._Juz_po_zmierchu_2015.pdf

What is climate neutrality?

Climate neutrality is the balance between the emission of greenhouse gases and their abatement by forests (the cutting of which will be banned) or storing (e.g. with CCS or CCU technologies). Climate neutrality is a broader notion than decarbonisation, as it intuitively concerns not only carbon dioxide, but also other greenhouse gases. Both notions are understood as eliminating anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

What technological innovations use renewable energy sources?

The development of renewable energy sources brings along a number of innovations. The most dynamically developing industries of this sector are the technologies related to solar energy, wind power and wave power. Additionally, the development of RES brings about innovations in the sector of energy storage (in order to stabilise energy supply) and the development of intelligent grids (in order to optimise the use of energy). Another consequence of the development of energy storing facilities is the dynamic development of electromobility. In the area of intelligent grids, the concepts of the Internet of Things are being developed, i.e. connecting appliances via the Internet in order to optimise their work, depending on weather conditions and the generation potential of some RES.

What are the main sources of pollution in Poland?

The main sources of pollution in Poland is the exploitation of fossil fuels, used individually (transport, heating), in energy sector and industry. Information on the emission of pollutants is available on the KOBIZE (the National Centre for Emissions Management) website: http://www.kobize.pl

What happens to miners who lose their jobs as a result of limiting coal mining?

The main reason for reducing jobs in the mining industry is the bad condition of the mining sector, as pointed out by the WisEuropa report: “Polski węgiel: quo vadis?” (Polish coal: quo vadis?). Let-off miners have so called mining discharge allowances, i.e. a multiplicity of monthly wages. Additionally, miners reaching retirement age will be retiring.  On one hand, the low-emission transformation will decrease the need for coal, but on the other, it will create new jobs in the sectors of new, green technologies. Obviously, changing specialties is not easy, therefore, training programmes will be required, which should be organised by government administration. More information: http://np2050.pl/files/NP2050_pp_nr_6_FINAL.pdf

What barriers prevent people from being willing to use renewable energy sources?

The main barrier is economics. Practically all buildings in Poland are connected to the electrical energy grid, therefore, installing energy generation devices does not make much sense economically, unless such an investment generates returns in a rational timeframe (less than 10 years) and then generates profits (due to savings or selling energy). In the case of thermal energy, as long we are using high-emissive and cheap (excluding external costs) sources of heat (old coal furnaces and generally coal boilers), we will not have clean air and the development of micro-RES in Poland will not happen.

Is it possible to obtain subsidies for the installation of devices generating energy from renewable resources?

Yes. Subsidy programmes change, therefore, it is a good idea to regularly check the websites of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, voivodeship funds for environmental protection, city halls and municipal administration bureaus for updates.

Can we expect investment returns from a renewable energy source?

Yes, depending on various factors. Every investment requires a solid cost and profit analysis. It is a good idea to use tools like the More Than Energy  or Ozerise calculator. It should be noted that in a situation where energy prices for the end users are relatively low, the return on investment can be long-term (more than 10 years). Without a support system, like Feed-in tariffs, it is worth using available subsidies, e.g. from environmental protection funds.

Can energy from renewable sources be competitive with energy from traditional sources?

Yes. What is more, considering the future costs of emission allowances, the requirement of importing non-renewable resources and external costs, energy from renewable resources is already economically and socially competitive in comparison to fossil fuels.

How much more expensive is using renewable energy sources?

Currently, the cost of generating energy from renewable sources is close to the costs of generating energy from conventional sources, while in the future it will be significantly lower.

Of course, we have to differentiate between the costs of various RES technologies – wind power on land costs less than e.g. offshore wind power or photovoltaics. However, going in the direction of climate neutrality, we will need sustainable development of all kinds of technologies using RES, including the ones now considered more expensive (e.g. biogas, geothermal energy).

So far, the conventional energy generation sector (from coal) was strongly subsidised both directly (financially) and indirectly via external costs, i.e through polluting the natural environment and deteriorating people’s health without adequate compensation. Therefore, we cannot compare the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) to electricity market prices (power exchange).

The costs of generating energy can be compared using the method of Levelized cost of energy (LCOE), and, depending on the assumptions (energy resource prices, emission allowances, external costs, localisation) and technologies used, it will be possible to predict which costs are going to be lower for new installations. E.g. according to a government document, LCOE for wind power on land (ca. 84 EUR/MWh) should be lower than for coal power plants (90 EUR/MWh) in 2025. As the document has been prepared with data from 2012, it can be verified that already wind power has reached similar parameters, and that other technologies (PV, offshore wind power) are achieving better and better economic parameters.

What areas of our daily life influence our planet and climate the most?

It depends on your life style. We can point to several factors influencing our carbon footprint: transport (how often do we travel by planes or cars), food (if we eat a lot of meat, especially beef and pork), consumerism (if we buy new things while old ones are still good).

What is the carbon footprint?

The carbon footprint is an index showing the impact of our life style on the emission of greenhouse gases. Do you want to check your carbon footprint? Use a calculator, e.g. on the website Ziemia Na Rozdrożu.

What can be done to counteract climate change?

In order to counteract climate change, we should support climate policy (during election campaigns, meetings with the government representatives and politicians): decision-makers have to feel the support of society towards climate action.

Also, make daily choices which reduce our fossil fuel consumption: save energy, use alternative transport (instead of cars, planes), eat less meat (the less, the better). Don’t buy products which you don’t need and try to fix before replacing. Save energy: turn off the light if you’re leaving a room, use energy efficient appliances.

What will be the economic and social benefits of the revolution in energy industry?

The low-emission development is a chance to avoid the so called middle income trap. This means that it can contribute to the development of innovative sectors of economy, as opposed to being based on declining industries (coal, oil, combustion engines etc.). Building HR competences in the so called green workplaces will be necessary if we do not want to stay behind. At the same time, we will be living in a cleaner environment, we will be independent from importing energy resources and our trade balance will improve. More on the subject: www.np2050.pl

What is energy efficiency?

Energy efficiency is the proportion of used energy to perform a given activity. If we introduce a change, after which the same activity will be performed, but consuming less energy, we increase energy efficiency. E.g. if we change a 60 W light bulb to a 9 W LED, we gain a similar amount of light (lumens) using much less electrical energy. The same applies if we insulate walls of a house, replace a furnace with a more efficient one etc.

Who is a prosumer and is the concept of prosumerism?

A prosumer is a person who produces and consumes. In the context of RES, a prosumer is a person, who e.g. produces and consumes thermal energy from biomass (preferably in a biomass gasification boiler), or a person, who produces and consumes electrical energy from a photovoltaic panel. Pursuant to the definition by the International Energy Agency, a prosumer can be a person, who uses all of the generated energy for his/her own use (off-grid), or who decides to sell part or all of such energy. The Act on renewable energy sources amended on 22 June 2016 significantly limits the definition of a prosumer, which is known and used throughout the world, to an entity not conducting business activity and generating energy for its own use.

How should I travel to limit my influence on climate warming?

Use your legs: walk and ride a bicycle. If you get tired, use public transportation: take a tram, bus or a train. If you have to go by car, do not drive alone – invite your friends and carpool to work or school. This will reduce your direct costs as well as the impact on environment, health and civilisation (traffic jams).

What car should I buy to be the least harmful to the environment?

Preferably buy a bicycle, a monthly pass for public transportation, and travel to other cities and countries by train. If you really need a car (because other options are not available), start from looking for an electric car – but be careful – with the current, high-emissive methods of generating electricity in Poland, this will still not be the best solution for the climate. It is preferred that you charge your vehicle with energy coming from RES, maybe from an installation in your backyard.

How can I improve energy efficiency in my home?

Change your lighting to LED, implement thermal modernisation (replace windows, insulate the ceilings, the attic and the cellar), when replacing a refrigerator, washing machine, TV set, computer – remember to choose products with the highest energy efficiency index. Consume wisely: do not put warm meals into the refrigerator, ventilate intensively, but briefly, turn off the light if you are leaving a room, turn off devices if you are not using them.

What is the influence of food industry on the climate?

The food industry has an influence on the climate, specifically meat production. There are many reasons for that – deforestation of large areas for growing feed or pasturage, using fossil fuels for powering breeding facilities and producing feed, gut fermentation, storing manure etc. Globally, all of the related production chain may be responsible for as much as 18% of greenhouse gas emissions, with the main factor being deforestation. If you want to know more on the subject: http://naukaoklimacie.pl/fakty-i-mity/mit-krowy-emituja-wiecej-gazow-cieplarnianych-niz-transport-117