Poland moves to block coal imports from Russia

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Poland’s government has decided to block imports of coal from Russia

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WARSAW, Poland — Poland’s government decided Tuesday to block imports of coal from Russia, part of a strategy to reduce energy dependence on Russia that gained new urgency after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Poland will impose financial penalties on any private entities importing Russian coal into Poland, with Polish customs government officials carrying out checks, Piotr Mueller said as he announced the new policy. He added that Poland could no longer wait for the whole 27-nation European Union to embrace the policy.

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Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the EU, the United States and some other powers imposed a range of economic sanctions on Russia. But Europe, which is historically dependent on Russian energy — primarily oil and gas but also coal to some extent — has had trouble weaning itself off of Russian energy.

Poland, which was under Moscow’s influence during the communist era, has worked in recent years to reduce its use of Russian energy, and will soon no longer have to rely on Russian gas.

It is more dependent on Russian oil, however. And while Poland produces a lot of its own coal, it also relies on imports. Russian coal make up 13% of the coal used each year, according to Piotr Lewandowski, the president of the Institute for Structural Research in Warsaw.

Half of that imported Russian coal is used to generate heat by individual homes, while the rest is used for district heating or industry, he said.

“That’s why it’s much easier to ban coal in the final week of March than in October,” Lewandowski said. “The question now is how do you prepare for the next heating season?”

One option will be to buy coal from other sources, but that might be more expensive, given Russian coal’s favorable quality-to-price ratio. The other is for Poland’s government to create more incentives for households to retrofit their homes to rely on other energy sources, such as by installing heat pumps, Lewandowski said.

Even before the war began, Russian coal was problematic because a certain share of it was extracted from the Russian-occupied Donbas region of Ukraine, sent to Russia and then exported.

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Follow all stories on developments related to the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/russia-ukraine.

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Credit: abcnews.go.com /

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