If anything exemplifies how far the current ruling coalition has drifted from its obligation to govern competently, it's the current wave of propaganda surrounding the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.
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Billboards and media advertisements, paid for by us by the way, denounce it as a "European Energy Tax" with MP's such as Janusz Kowalski puffing out his chest and bellowing to anyone within earshot how the ETS is "pulling 20 billion złoty (€4.3 billion) from the state budget".

Janusz is the kind of politician who would gladly sit in a cage and breathe in any number of vile toxins on behalf of his bosses, much like a canary in a coalmine. No-one expects much off of Janusz, not least Janusz. If he has the cognitive ability to grasp the essential benefits the ETS system has for Poland, the economy and with regard to the bigger picture, our ultimate survival as a species, then he has hidden it well.

Rather, he seems blissfully ignorant how the system works, how businesses buy allowances from the Polish government at auction and how Poland has already received 60 billion zloty for this. The amounts were small initially, but in recent years they grew to 11 billion in 2019, 14 billion in 2020, and 20 billion in 2021.

The ETS system was established to make emitters of co2 financially motivated to reduce their output and in doing so, help the planet. The conversion from brown to green energy is arguably the most important task facing the people of Poland. We all have to play our part, especially the government who are paid handsomely to make prudent decisions for our future. And if they can't do that, then it behoves them to refrain from lying. The ETS is not a tax deducted from the public, but a payment sourced directly from the emitters themselves.

Far from being the draconian overlords painted by the Polish government, the EU made no obligations on countries how to use this money, assuming that each member state would have a degree of foresight and use the funds to finance green technology conversion. According to my expert source from one of Poland's principle power sectors (who wishes to remain anonymous) the EU recommendation was "to use at least 50% of the emissions budget to support the limiting of co2".

Countries were asked to report on how they used the money and we can see how PiS in 2019, gave 4.5 billion zloty in rebates to power sector producers ensuring that household electricity bills remained stable. Spending half the budget to preserve existing energy systems to the detriment of R+D into green technologies is exactly the kind of short-term, laziness that populist governments are known to do: they're like alcoholic parents who spend the family savings on pizza and beer then turn up the Disco Polo to drown out the voices of caution.

And while 1.5 billion went on photovoltaic energy grants to the public, encouraging people to invest in solar panels, my source tells me that from the beginning of April the government is changing the rules to make the scheme less attractive. "They assumed the current uptake would only be achieved by 2030 and failed to invest in a low-voltage distribution system prepared for this increase of capacity".

So, the drive towards cheap, clean solar energy will soon grind to a halt because the geniuses at PiS didn't think the Polish people would buy into it. Well guess what? Turns out, Poles of all stripes want low bills and healthy air, one of the few times when private gain and public good overlap. Everyone heard the alarm and got up to build the barn. Except the government. They're sitting on the toilet, staring at an empty roll of cardboard, regretting all that pizza and beer.

Okay, regret is too strong a word. This government doesn't do regret. That's an emotion the rest of us will have to endure as other countries move ahead and we scurry to complete a bigger task in a shorter time. What's particularly galling, is that knowing how wedded Poland was to coal, the EU gave us bigger funds to make the transition, but PiS in their wisdom took it upon themselves to eat our future. And they've been doing this since 2016, back when they introduced legislation to block wind farms. Poles are inventive, resourceful and whip-smart – you have to be when you are lumbered with politicians whose negligence is nothing short of criminal, but is it any wonder that you're always playing catch-up? Failure of leadership has always dogged Poland at crucial moments in history and this is one of them. "Companies will close their factories if there is no green certificate," says my source. "They will move somewhere else. More, products coming from Poland won't be allowed to be sold in the EU. This will be a disaster".

Disaster? Well, at least we have Janusz, sitting in his cage, waiting to warn us.\


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