Polish Green MP: Sadly, the German Greens couldn’t stop Nord Stream 2

Urszula Zieliñska in a file photo dated 25 May 2020. [Polish agency PAP]

While the German Greens in the coalition government succeeded in blocking Nord Stream 2 at the certification stage, there are fears the SPD could prevail, and the pipeline becomes operational, according to Urszula Zielińska, a Polish MP in an interview.

Like other EU countries, Poland is suffering from an energy price hike, resulting from shortages of gas supplies, coupled with increased demand.

“The main reason for high energy prices is our dependence on fossil fuels”, said Zielińska, who was just elected co-leader of the Polish Green Party.

She argues that the current situation “gives the Russians” the power “to manipulate gas prices”. Precisely because of the current situation and the Polish dependence on coal, “the implementation of the EU climate policy in Poland becomes a must”.

Asked about the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is now completed and awaits certification before starting to bring Russian gas to Germany under the Baltic Sea, the new Greens’ leader said that “this very harmful investment pushes us into Putin’s arms”.

Zielińska said she was concerned with the new German government’s “volatile” position on the issue.

“On one hand, I am happy with the German Greens in the government, because they managed to block the Nord Stream 2 at the certification point”, she said, adding, “However, I am also worried that the Nord Stream 2 may start its operations”.

Ever since the major increase in energy prices, the Mateusz Morawiecki government and the Law and Justice (PiS) politicians have blamed the EU for the emerging situation. “They are twisting the facts!” says Zielińska pointing to the fact that the Polish premier was praising the EU climate policy during the UN meeting in Glasgow a few weeks ago and is now criticising it.

“This may lead to pulling Poland out of the EU”, she warned. Zielińska was even more appalled when she argued, “at the same time, this government is not re-investing the money into low-carbon investments.”

Her concerns relate to how the Greens formed a government with the Social-Democrats SPD and the liberal FDP, whose positions are not as strong as the Greens. “I am worried about the SPD”, said Zielińska pointing to the fact that it was an SPD ex-chancellor Gerhard Schroeder who ended up working for Gazprom. Also, SPD was part of the Merkel-led government that saw Nord Stream 2 constructed.

Linking the opening of the North Stream 2 with the security tensions between Russia and Ukraine, Zielińska said that Nord Stream 2 was “a whip on Russia” and could be leveraged in negotiations with Russia in the wider context of the tensions in Eastern Ukraine.

However, she refuses a trade-off between peace in Ukraine and unblocking Nord Stream 2: “This is not the way. We drove ourselves into coal and now into gas – somebody owns those resources. We see now resource wars. As long as we do not free ourselves from those resources, which usually come from non-democratic nations, we are in trouble. This is a road to nowhere. This is a vicious circle”, she added.

Gas is used throughout the European Union in decarbonisation as a transitory resource. Zielińska is critical of this mitigation: “Uranium, coal and gas are all fossil fuels. The only way forward is with renewable energy sources”. She also pointed out that there should be a decentralised energy production system instead of major energy-producing hubs.

In her words, the alternative to fossil fuels includes six elements “to defend ourselves when the wind stops, and the sun is not shining”: (1) energy effectiveness savings; (2) biogas and energy from waste burning; (3) trans-border connectivity; (4) green hydrogen; (5) development of new energy storage systems and (6) a new smart energy grid, which she called “mandatory”.

Zielińska said there were already companies investing in finding new green solutions, for example, in energy storage capacities, including those in Poland.

[Edited by Alice Taylor]

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