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WIREs Clim Change
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Climate change regional review: Poland

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Poland is a country where a climate change warming signal can be detected in temperature, but observed changes in other variables, and especially in precipitation, are complex. Temperature projections indicate further warming, but models do not agree as to seasonal distribution of changes in precipitation. This article reviews evidence for climate change and its impacts in Poland, in the context of observations and projections. It also reviews various aspects of climate change mitigation policy in the country whose energy supply is more coal‐dominated than any other country. This is one reason why climate change mitigation efforts are modest and climate policy largely passive. The dramatic decline of industrial production involving a rapid decline in CO2 emissions during 1989–1992 was the crucial element of the Poland's position in the negotiations of international agreements. The European Union (EU) accession in 2004 tied Poland to EU climate policy. This cautious approach is largely in harmony with public attitudes. Poles are aware of climate change, but it is not considered as a priority issue and public opinion is divided about the issues of mitigation. Adaptation to climate change impacts in Poland is driven by the fact that observed impacts are not very large and there is no persuasive attribution of these impacts to greenhouse gas emissions. Reactive adaptation to climate change is preferred over anticipatory adaptation. There are several ‘special care’ areas in Poland in terms of adaptation: the mountains; the coastal zone of the Baltic Sea; and the river valleys. WIREs Clim Change 2012 doi: 10.1002/wcc.175

Figure 1.

Complexity of climate in Poland, being influenced by air masses from four directions. Countries are denoted by national vehicle registration codes (PL: Poland, D: Germany, CZ: Czech Republic, SK: Slovakia, UA: Ukraine, BY: Belarus, LT: Lithuania, RUS: Russian Federation).

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Figure 2.

(a) Thermal classifications of months and years—deviations from 1971 to 2000 normals for Warszawa–Okecie. Source: IMGW (produced by Halina Lorenc). http://www.imgw.pl/index.php?view=article&id=96%3Aklasyfikacja‐termiczna‐miesicy‐i‐roku‐&option=com_content& Itemid=98. (b) Pluvial classifications of months and years—deviations from 1971 to 2000 normals for Warszawa–Okecie. Source: IMGW (produced by Halina Lorenc). http://www.imgw.pl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=98:klasyfikacja‐opadowa‐miesicy‐i‐roku&catid=51: klimatologia&Itemid=98.

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Figure 3.

Changes of climatic water balance in summer in Poland. Period (a) 1961–1990 versus (b) 2061–2090. Results of work conducted in the Institute for Agricultural and Forest Environment of the Polish Academy of Sciences, within the ENSEMBLES Project; regional climate model used: MPI‐M‐REMO, scenario A1B, courtesy of Prof. Andrzej Kedziora and Dr Malgorzata Szwed.

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Figure 4.

Carbon dioxide and methane emission in Poland expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent (Gg CO2 eq), 1988–2007, including CO2 emission and removal balance in sector 5: land use, land use change and forestry. Source of data:Ref 30.

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Figure 5.

Poles' opinion on: What are the environmental threats? (Respondents could indicate two threats). Source of data: Institute for Sustainable Development.

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Figure 6.

Cover stories of the opinion making magazines announce cooling (from left to right: Focus—October 2000, Polityka—12 July 2003, Wprost—10 June 2007, Polityka—12 April 2008).

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