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The Warsaw Voice » Business » November 28, 2013
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Industry and Climate Change: Seeking a balance
November 28, 2013   
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by Małgorzata Iwanejko

The Polish power industry is trying hard to reconcile two very different development ideas. Historical conditions have predetermined that we have to continue using our easily available sources of energy such as hard and brown coal. But this leads to an obvious conflict with the expectations of European Union officials.

Poland’s energy infrastructure dates back to a period when climate change was of interest to only a handful of scientists. Consequently, it does not meet rigorous emission control standards. This is a problem not only for energy producers, but for all sectors of the economy.

Of course, it is difficult to disagree with ecologists when it comes to their arguments about industry’s impact on the environment. However, while implementing successive EU directives, it is important to bear in mind the sustainable development of all sectors of the economy. It is difficult to imagine a Europe without production plants and developing exclusively on the basis of services, even if these are highly innovative services. Unfortunately, the EU’s current energy policy leads—I hope unintentionally—to a situation in which industry is in a sense relocating beyond its borders. I’m particularly referring to metal processing—in terms of both iron and non-ferrous metals—which is highly dependent on energy prices and which is losing its competitiveness under such a restrictive EU policy. The present difficult situation of the euro zone and all member countries does not in any way change the perception of the problem.

It is vital to balance environmental protection with thorough and fair analyses of the influence of environmental directives on the economies of individual EU countries, taking into account their specific characteristics and adopting appropriate measures.

Applying all this directly to Poland and Polish industry, it is hard to identify at least one sector that happens to be more competitive and that has strengthened its economic status as a result of the EU’s climate policy. We are losing the opportunity of being competitive in heavy industry. Of course, we cannot exclusively blame EU regulations for this. We have been unable to efficiently use the EU’s allowances such as an exemption from excise tax for end users of energy-intensive technology that cannot be replaced by any other technology—as in the case of electrolysis, for example.

An increase in energy costs in production plants is always accompanied by unintended social costs. To maintain their competitiveness, these plants need to decrease their expenditure in other areas. Very often, the only solution is to decrease labor costs, which, of course, brings about a drastic reduction in employee incomes and quality of life. Are such costs worth bearing?

Nevertheless, it is easy to see that Poland’s energy landscape has changed—newly emerging wind farms and photovoltaic cells have become part of this landscape. A heated discussion about nuclear power is in progress. The way we distribute and sell energy has also changed under the influence of the EU’s policy. Quick consolidation of this sector in Poland, the opening of the stock exchange, deregulation of energy prices and demand—these are all steps in the right direction.

We are trying really hard to implement successive directives and are investing in modern solutions in order to meet the increasingly restrictive requirements, while improving our processing capacity at the same time. All the while we are trying to find an answer to the fundamental question of whether or not the Kyoto Convention is a form of utopia. As I watch the activities of our partners beyond the European Union—and I am thinking mainly of the United States and the world’s fastest developing economies such as China and India, which are now responsible for 33 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions (the same amount as the 34 countries in the OECD)—it is hard to expect that a global agreement on a reduction of CO2 emissions would quickly become reality instead of an unfulfilled dream.

Perhaps Poland’s task as an EU member is to show the world a way out of what scientists call an imminent climate catastrophe.

The question that still needs to be answered is in what way manufactured products are indispensable for civilization? I could not find the answer in the vast array of EU implementation directives. So I return to my previously stated opinion that the solution for reaching such laudable climate targets lies in a balance in activities, including those benefiting the environment.

CEEP Welcomes New Member
Impexmetal, a member of the Boryszew group, has become the 20th member of Central Europe Energy Partners (CEEP).

Impexmetal is one of the largest holding companies in Poland’s production and trade sector. It is active in market segments including aluminum, copper, zinc, lead and bearings.

CEEP’s CEO Janusz Luks said, “Impexmetal strengthens our status with the scale of its business operations and its international reach.”

Impexmetal is a listed company with over 50 years of tradition in international trade in nonferrous metals, semi-finished goods and bearings. Impexmetal has been listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange since 1997. In 2005, the company joined the Boryszew group.

Impexmetal owns or controls 12 companies, including Huta Aluminium Konin, Hutmen, Baterpol, and FLT Łożyska. Impexmetal has been listed among the top 500 companies in Central and Eastern Europe by Rzeczpospolita daily and consulting firm Deloitte. The ranking covers 955 companies from 19 countries.
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