Polish oil firm signs up to 2050 climate neutrality goal

"The global energy transformation that is taking place before our eyes is a huge development opportunity for Central Europe,” said Daniel Obajtek, CEO of PKN Orlen. [canon_photographer / Shutterstock]

PKN Orlen, Poland’s largest oil refiner and retailer, this week became the first oil company in central Europe to commit to climate neutrality by 2050, with plans to invest billions in energy efficiency, solar, wind, and hydrogen.

The group unveiled its “emissions neutrality strategy” on Wednesday (9 September), announcing plans to invest 25 billion zlotys (€5.6 billion) by 2030 in renewable energies and other low-carbon projects.

The announcement comes after Shell, BP and other European oil majors announced similar plans earlier this year to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, in line with EU long-term goals on climate change.

By 2030, PKN Orlen intends to reduce CO2 emissions from its refining and petrochemical assets by 20% and emissions from power generation by 33%.

“The carbon-neutral strategy we have presented is a landmark defining our approach to doing business in the coming decades. The global energy transformation that is taking place before our eyes is a huge development opportunity for Central Europe,” said Daniel Obajtek, CEO of PKN Orlen.

In the coming ten years, PKN Orlen will focus its efforts on “low- and zero-emission energy generation sources, including both offshore and onshore wind power as well as solar photovoltaics” and next-generation biofuels, the company said in a statement.

The group also announced the construction of a 600 kg/h hydrogen hub in Włocławek, which is expected to give the company a leading position on the Polish hydrogen market. These investments will be covered by the issuance of green bonds on the European capital market.

Investors hail Shell’s net-zero emissions pledge

Environmentally-minded investor groups have commended Anglo-Dutch oil and gas major Shell for committing to cut emissions to net-zero by 2050 or even sooner.

EU lawmakers are currently debating a “European climate law” aimed at cementing the bloc’s commitment to become the first climate neutral continent in the world by 2050.

Poland is the only EU member country which hasn’t yet formally committed to the bloc-wide target of cutting emissions to net-zero emissions by mid-century.

The move to climate neutrality was presented as a “huge opportunity” by PKN Orlen’s CEO, who announced a series of “planned acquisitions” in order to “take full advantage of the new opportunities offered by global energy trends” and “build company value in the long term”.

PKN Orlen’s move to climate neutrality is part of a wider shift in the petrochemical and refining sector. In June this year, European oil refiners outlined a €650 billion plan to decarbonise transport fuels by 2050, saying they were committed to reaching climate neutrality by mid-century.

“There is no business as usual for our industry and PKN Orlen’s announcement is another example of the industry’s ambition to take decisive climate action,” said Alain Mathuren from FuelsEurope, the oil refiners’ industry association.

Europe’s oil refiners outline path to climate neutrality by 2050

The European oil refining industry association, whose members includes Shell, BP, ExxonMobil and Total, outlined on Monday (15 June) a €650 billion plan to completely decarbonise transport fuels by 2050.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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