Ten years ago, the social perception of ecological problems in Poland was quite cautious. Yes, we had already been told then about the need to sort waste, but slogans like energy transformation or green energy seemed to us to be very distant concepts.
Over the past 10 years, our environmental awareness has grown considerably. According to a CBOS study conducted in 2020, pro-environmental behavior is declared by a much higher percentage of Poles than 12 years ago. Up to 25 percent the group of people buying energy-efficient household appliances has increased – in 2008 it was 67 percent. Poles have also started turning more and more willingly to green energy sources.
– Citizens have shown that they are much more interested in energy transformation than governments – says prof. Piotr Szymański from the Department of Economics and Business Organization of the Wrocław University of Economics. – Two main reasons explain the growing expectations of citizens in the field of renewable energies, on the one hand, a growing awareness of the environment – as shown by research of a level similar to that of other European countries, and on the other hand, the account – underlines our interlocutor.
However, despite the fact that the pace of investment in renewable energy in recent years has been very high, there is still a lot of catching up to do. The Polish economy is one of the infamous leaders in terms of the economy’s emission intensity, as well as well above the EU average in terms of the economy’s energy consumption. – There are countries that produce electricity mainly from renewable sources, such as Austria, Sweden (hydroelectric power stations). Others, who do not have such hydrological conditions, opt for photovoltaics and wind turbines in Germany and the Netherlands. In others, the pace of investment in renewable energy is far from satisfactory compared to the potential – this is the case in Italy and Spain – underlines the professor.
The European Union has also played a huge role in increasing our ecological awareness. Already in the years 2014-2020, this was an important point in the EU programs. The announcement of the European Green Deal has become an ecological milestone for EU countries.
– For the first time in history, the green economy is at the center of the EU strategy – stresses prof. Bożena Ryszawska from the Department of Corporate Finance and Public Finance, Wrocław University of Economics. – What is very important, the Green Deal is not only a declaration, but also precisely defined detailed solutions. The pandemic has slowed down its implementation a bit, but it is already clear that the priorities set by the EU are working.
Teacher. Ryszawska points out that financial mechanisms contribute to this. As analyzes of the effectiveness of EU funding show, it acts as a lever – it multiplies investment in a given area by up to thirteen times. EU funding of 1,000 euros results in 13,000. euro investment.
Because others, the citizens themselves, but also investment funds and companies, “add” their resources. However, corporate interest in green solutions continues to grow. In the past, they were used almost exclusively to improve the image of companies, today they are at the center of their commercial interest, at the level of purchases and the organization of logistics processes.
– Social phenomena that cannot be stopped are called mega trends, they include, for example, aging societies or climate change – says Prof. Ryszawska. – Resistance against them, for example from political circles, is unfounded and leads to nothing. Green transformation is a mega trend. Politicians may frown, but their actions will end in failure anyway. The mega trend is like a snowball. It will continue to roll.
The time of an impulse
After the outbreak of the war, many voices were raised in Ukraine calling for a change of priorities in state environmental policy. It has been said that it could be useful to suspend or suspend the implementation of the European Green Deal.
However, according to scientists, war does not slow down, but accelerates the green transformation. If only because it showed how fragile energy security can be in a situation of dependence on raw material supplies from Russia. – The current geopolitical situation and the high likelihood of long-term tensions in relations with Russia are prompting many European countries to take active steps to accelerate energy transformation. In many of these countries there is a discussion on how to reduce the dependence on imported non-renewable energy sources (mainly gas) and how to activate the national potential in the field of energy production from renewable sources. renewables – emphasizes prof. Szymansky.
– Sometimes in history there is a sudden impulse leading to changes – says the prof. Ryszawska. – The war in Ukraine is such an impetus for the green economy, which has a chance to become an important factor in our energy security. Today, we see renewable energies as an important condition for the safe operation of businesses and households. The Poles themselves have proven this by investing their money massively in solar farms. They see that renewable energy means lower costs and greater stability.
This is confirmed by various studies on social attitudes. They show that about 80 percent. Poles would like the energy in their homes to come from renewable energy sources. Only a few percent of renewables are being phased out.
The world of science has a very important role to play in the energy transformation, especially in the field that has recently developed very dynamically in the world – ecological economics. It is characterized by a completely different approach to the classic, where increasing production and consumption is a top priority, regardless of the consumption of available resources. In turn, ecological economics pays great attention to them.
– We emphasize that the Earth’s resources are a public good and that the economy must take into account the degree of their use – explains Prof. Bożena Ryszawska. – Not only is the law of supply and demand important, but also that we do not harm ourselves. They were also responsible between the generations, they thought about what we would bequeath to our children and grandchildren, they took into account the interests of the poorest societies – development cannot be done at their expense. Ecological economics is sometimes called “obwarzanek economics”. Economic growth, yes, but within the limits of the planet and at least the minimum quality of life for the poorest.
It’s not just a theory. Within the framework of research focused on economic trends, the Wrocław University of Economics undertakes various initiatives in this field, in cooperation with local governments and businesses. One of the research projects was carried out with the housing cooperative Wrocław Południe, which owns the largest solar power plant in Poland, located on the roofs of 10-storey buildings. The second takes place in cooperation with the municipality of Prusice – it is an international EC2 project (the name comes from the terms “energy communities” and “energy citizenship”) under the slogan “Energy citizenship and energy communities for the transition towards clean energy.
The university also cooperates with many companies, organizing, among other things, job fairs or the realization of joint projects in which students are involved. There is also a Green Team at the University – this is a grassroots initiative of university employees, which promotes eco-solutions, for example in the form of photovoltaic panels on the roofs of university buildings.
One of the initiatives of the University is the organization of the “356 Timing Economic Congress”. It will be held on May 17 under the slogan “Energy security and green economy”. Technology and innovation as key factors in knowledge-based development”. The congress is jointly organized by the Wrocław University of Economics and the Lower Silesian Development Fund, within the framework of a strategic partnership with the Dolnośląskie Voivodeship.
Details on the website www.365timing.pl