Poland’s Election Impact: Climate Challenges and EU Policy Future

Anna Spurek

Warsaw (Brussels Morning) – The recent elections in Poland were marked by anxiety, fatigue, and campaign exhaustion, culminating in a significant shift in the political landscape. The Confederation emerged victorious by focusing on anti-migrant and anti-EU sentiments. The Civic Coalition, Law and Justice, and other parties faced criticism for their handling of the Green Deal and environmental issues. The polarization in Polish politics was evident, with a significant representation of anti-EU and anti-climate policies expected in the new European Parliament term. This shift raises concerns about the future of climate policies and reforms in Poland and the broader EU.

The Polish parliamentary elections on October 15, 2023, and the local government elections on April 7, 2024, were conducted in an atmosphere of anxiety and campaign fatigue. The Confederation won by emphasizing anti-migrant and anti-EU sentiments. The election results indicate strong polarization and a shift away from Green Deal commitments, raising concerns about the future of environmental and climate policies in the European Parliament.

Polish Elections Reflect Deep Polarization

Elections, elections, and past the elections. In Poland, the elections were conducted in an atmosphere of anxiety, fatigue, and campaign weariness. Finally, the elections to the Polish Parliament on October 15, 2023, and the local government elections on April 7, 2024, exhausted the resources, ideas, and financial means of the candidates. The winner turned out to be the Confederation, showing ads about women attacked by migrants on the streets, saying that it was time for a completely different European Union and announcing the withdrawal of the so-called building directive (EPBD) through a resolution. The other Committees either remained silent or attacked the Green Deal and shifted responsibility for adopting the EU Green Deal.

On June 9, 2024, the strong dualism and polarization in Poland and the weakness of parties proposing something other than conflict, populism, and settling accounts with predecessors were confirmed. In the shadow of the campaign, the Commission for the so-called envelope elections in Poland, chaired by two politicians who, riding the wave of popularity of the deliberations and related speeches and verbal scuffles, entered the European Parliament – Waldemar Buda (Law and Justice) and Dariusz Joński (Civic Coalition).

What can we expect from the composition of the Polish delegation to the European Parliament? 21 seats for the Civic Coalition, which will likely join the EPP in full (37.06%), 20 seats for Law and Justice (36.16%), 6 seats for the Confederation, which did not want to indicate a group in the EP (probably ID, 12.08%), and 3 seats each for the Left (S&D) and the Third Way (1 seat for Michał Kobosko from Renew and two for Adam Jarubas and Krzysztof Hetman, previously in the EPP).

Polish MEPs: New Faces and Shifts in Climate Policy

53 seats for Poland, 33 new MEPs, including the former President of Orlen, Daniel Obajtek. The European Parliament will not include two of the most prominent defenders of the Green Deal and climate policies, Róża Thun (Renew Poland 2050, who received only 14,000 votes from a district that was not her home district) and Dr. Sylwia Spurek, who did not run in the elections and resigned from politics in favor of other projects. Neither will it include Prof. Zdzisław Krasnodębski, one of the more progressive politicians of Law and Justice, nor two former prime ministers – Prof. Marek Belka and Włodzimierz Cimoszewicz.

The strong representation of the anti-European, anti-community, and anti-climate Confederation, alongside 20 seats for Law and Justice and the Civic Coalition withdrawing from green promises, does not provide hope that in the 2025-2029 term, we will see reforms that will actually improve the situation for citizens in Europe. This was very clearly seen in the election campaign dominated by issues of border security and defense.

Even during the pre-election debate in Super Express regarding the Green Deal, very little was said about the Green Deal, and the candidates focused on showcasing other party projects and national issues, including, of course, the envelope elections (the 2020 presidential elections in Poland, which were supposed to be conducted by mail, but did not happen, although significant expenses were incurred from the state budget for, among other things, the preparation of voting cards).

Lack of Green Deal Dialogue Hurts Climate Policy and Food System

Organizations like the Green REV Institute, which organized debates on climate policies, the food system, and the Common Agricultural Policy, could not count on the presence of leading candidates, who openly said they were not dealing with it. This is a huge loss because, in a moment, it is precisely the Common Agricultural Policy and climate policy that will consistently be subjected to voting and changes.

The April decision of the EU Council and the European Parliament regarding “simplifications” in the Common Agricultural Policy (European Parliament legislative resolution of 24 April 2024 on the proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulations (EU) 2021/2115 and (EU) 2021/2116 as regards good agricultural and environmental condition standards, schemes for climate, environment, and animal welfare, amendments to CAP Strategic Plans, review of CAP Strategic Plans, and exemptions from controls and penalties) was enthusiastically received by the Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

In the face of growing protests from farming circles, which also carried anti-EU slogans, all politicians decided on a quick capitulation. The lack of dialogue, communication, and the absence of reliable information about the Green Deal in the media have borne fruit. We all lose from the further weakening of climate policies and delaying the transition of the food system. Data on food poverty in Poland are not optimistic, as the number of people in a crisis of food poverty, both qualitative and quantitative, is growing.

Lack of Climate Action: A Disaster for Economy, People, and Environment

The costs for farmers associated with sudden weather phenomena resulting from climate change and biodiversity loss are definitely increasing. Only recently, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development proposed increasing funding under agricultural crop and animal agriculture insurance. However, insurance or compensation does not solve the problem we are dealing with at all. The lack of climate action and systemic structural changes is a disaster for the economy, people, and the environment. Further subsidies only help those who pollute; the problem of Polish meat and the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is already the subject of international investigations, and the quality of what we eat is causing more and more diet-related diseases and cancers.

What next? MEPs who avoided the topic of the Green Deal during the campaign and openly spoke about the need to support business as usual will face real climate and social turbulence in this term. Every day of delaying reforms is another loss for citizens, public health, the environment, and agriculture. The Brussels bubble may prove too fragile for the looming natural resource crisis.

Given the composition of the Polish delegation, we must act to make MEPs realize that the environment, climate, and food are security puzzles just as important as other defense issues, and certainly much more important than the dualistic dispute between Law and Justice and Civic Coaliton. Whether the Coal and Steel Community becomes a Community of Climate Justice or squanders another chance today depends on 720 people in the EP, whose first task is to realize this.

Dear reader ,

Opinions expressed in the op-ed section are solely those of the individual author and do not represent the official stance of our newspaper. We believe in providing a platform for a wide range of voices and perspectives, even those that may challenge or differ from our own. We remain committed to providing our readers with high-quality, fair, and balanced journalism. Thank you for your continued support.

About Us

Brussels Morning is a daily online newspaper based in Belgium. BM publishes unique and independent coverage on international and European affairs. With a Europe-wide perspective, BM covers policies and politics of the EU, significant Member State developments, and looks at the international agenda with a European perspective.
Share This Article
Green REV Institute: for animals, humans, climate. Co-director of Vegan Warsaw movie; expert in EU Platform on Animal Welfare. Co-founder of theREV