Poland’s undersecretary of state for energy says it will “probably” support a net zero emissions 2050 target for the EU by the end of this year, marking a reversal for the country that played a key role in blocking the target last week at an EU leaders’ summit.

Minister Tomasz Dąbrowski said: “We will probably subscribe to this target, it’s just we need to know what the cost will be, and in what way we can mitigate the social impact of the whole transformation.”

He indicated that the issue will be revisited by EU leaders at the end of the year.

Poland — along with Estonia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic — have so far declined to go along with the rest of the bloc, as the EU leaders debate whether the bloc should cut greenhouse gas emissions to nearly zero by the middle of the century.

Speaking at the FT Energy Transition Strategies Conference in London, Mr Dąbrowski said the issue of who would pay for Poland’s transition away from fossil fuels, including social costs such as retraining for coal workers, had been a key sticking point.

For Poland to accept an EU-wide net zero target would require “some kind of compensation mechanism that would be equivalent to the costs we have to bear or at least very close,” he added.

Poland is among the most coal-dependent countries in Europe, with about 100,000 people employed in the sector, and still draws 80 per cent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants.

It would cost Poland about €900bn to shift to a coal-free power system, while maintaining grid stability, Mr Dąbrowski estimated. “During the discussion on the annual financial framework in the EU, the numbers being proposed are around €5bn,” he said. “If you compare these two numbers, you see a huge gap.”

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