What is Mitigation?

Climate change mitigation refers to efforts to reduce or prevent emission of greenhouse gases (GHG)(1). Mitigation activities focus on improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of energy from renewable sources in final gross energy consumption, carbon sequestration (capture and the long-term storage of CO2) as well as reducing the energy consumption in the economic sectors.

Raising awareness of the international community with regard to climate change impacts on the natural world and humanity constituted a considerable contribution to the progress of legislation on the reduction of GHG emissions and climate protection. It is precisely the international regulations that marked the beginning of a new phase in making the necessary effort by the world’s countries  and regional organizations (such as the European Union) to reduce GHG emissions.

The key regulations in the field of counteracting climate change at the international, EU and national level are indicated below.  

references: (1) The Kyoto Protocol applies to the six greenhouse gases listed in Annex A: Carbon dioxide (CO2), Methane (CH4), Nitrous oxide (N2O), Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), Perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and Sulphur hexafluoride (SF6)

The key regulations

The basic act of international law regulating the issue of taking global action to mitigate climate change is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the international environmental treaty adopted on 9 May 1992 (Journal of Laws 1996, No. 53, item 238). According to art. 2 of the UNFCCC, the ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere “at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system”. The Convention encouraged the Parties to undertake emission reduction efforts, however, the first document that in fact imposed specific emission reduction commitments was the Kyoto Protocol adopted by the Parties to UNFCC in Kyoto, Japan on 11 December 1997 (Journal of Laws 2005, No. 203, item 1684).  Annex B to the Protocol  sets out quantified emission limitation and reductions approved for each Party to Annex I to the Convention, including Poland,  in the commitment period 2008-2012 (CP 1).

In December 2012, at the Doha Climate Change Conference (COP 18), 192 Parties to the Kyoto Protocol to the UNFCCC adopted an amendment to the Kyoto Protocol (the Doha Amendment). The Doha Amendment establishes the second commitment period (CP2) under the Kyoto Protocol, starting on 1 January 2013 and ending on 31 December 2020, with legally-binding emission reduction commitments for the Parties listed in its Annex B.  Among these Parties are the European Union, the Member States and Iceland. The amendment extends the list of greenhouse gases listed  in Annex A to the Kyoto Protocol  by adding nitrogen trifluoride (NF3). The Doha Amendment will enter into force if ratified by three quarters of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, i.e. at least 144 countries (by 2019, 124 Parties have ratified the Doha Amendment). Poland ratified the Doha Amendment  compliant with the Act of 8 February, 2018 on the ratification of the Doha Amendment to the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, drawn up in Kyoto on 11 December 1997, in Doha on December 8, 2012 (Journal of Laws of 2018 item 669) and submitted appropriate documents on 28 September 2018.

The global milestone for enhancing collective action and accelerating the global transformation to a low-carbon and climate resilient society is the Paris Agreement adopted by the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP21) on  12 December, 2015 in Le Bourget, near Paris, France. The aim of the Paris Agreement (Journal of Laws of 2017, item 36) is “enhancing the implementation” of the UNFCCC  “to  strengthen  the  global  response  to  the  threat   of   climate change”, through (inter alia):  “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change”. The Agreement has been effective since 4 November 2016 (ratified by 184 Parties as of February 2019).  The Paris Agreement provides a framework for the global response to climate change and will replace the approach taken under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol that contains commitments until the end of 2020.

The EU’s efforts towards reduction of GHG emissions have been inextricably linked with fulfilling the commitments in the fight against climate undertaken by the Union and its Member States at an international level. The key documents shaping the EU’s policy with regard to climate change mitigation efforts are:

  • Directive 2003/87/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 October 2003 establishing a scheme for greenhouse gas emission allowance trading within the Community and amending Council Directive 96/61/EC  (EU ETS Directive)
  • Decision No 406/2009/EC – Effort of Member States to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to meet the Community’s greenhouse gas emission reduction commitments up to 2020 (ESD).

The EU ETS is the keystone of the European Union’s efforts  to reduce  GHG emissions. In total, approximately 45% of total EU GHG emissions are regulated by the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS) that focuses on emissions which can be measured, reported and verified to a high degree of accuracy. The system works by putting a limit on overall emissions from enclosed installations  which is reduced every year. Within this limit, companies can buy and sell emission allowances as needed. This  “cap-and-trade” approach gives companies the flexibility they need to cut their emissions in the most cost-effective way. By capping overall greenhouse gas emissions from the major sectors of the economy, the EU ETS creates an incentive for companies to invest in technologies that cut emissions.

The EU ETS covers approximately 11,000 power stations and manufacturing plants in the 28 EU Member States plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as aviation activities in these countries A major revision of the EU ETS ahead of the current trading period (2013-2020) strengthened the system and introduced increasingly harmonized rules.  

The following greenhouse gases and sectors are covered by the EU ETS:

Carbon dioxide (CO2) from:

  • Power and heat generation
  • Energy-intensive industry sectors including oil refineries, steel works and production of iron, aluminium, metals, cement, lime, glass, ceramics, pulp, paper, cardboard, acids

and bulk organic chemicals

  • Civil aviation
  1. Nitrous oxide (N2O) from production of nitric, adipic and
  2. glyoxylic acids and glyoxal
  3. Perfluorocarbons (PFCs) from aluminium production


Directive 2003/87/EC  was adopted by the European Parliament and Council in 2003, and considerably revised in 2009. In early 2018, there was revised the legislative framework of the EU ETS for  the next trading period (phase 4) to enable the  achievement of  the EU’s 2030 emission reduction targets in line with the 2030 climate and energy policy framework and as the EU’s contribution to the Paris Agreement.

Decision 2009/406/EC established the non-ETS system, which covers emissions of sectors not included in the EU ETS (transport, agriculture, waste, industrial emissions outside the EU ETS, and the municipal and housing sector with buildings, small sources, households, services, etc.) Non-ETS emissions account for approx. 55% of the total emissions in the EU. The necessity to reduce emissions in the non-ETS sectors results from the EU`s climate and energy policy framework for 2020. Unlike the EU ETS, which directly concerns the volume of emissions from individual installations, non-ETS emissions are determined at the level of the EU Member States. The national targets for Poland are: +14% compared to 2005 in the 2013-2020 period and -7% compared to 2005 in the 2021-2030 period. Due to the fact that non-ETS deals with national emissions, annual reporting and non-ETS compliance is the responsibility of the Government (

Policies and measures on climate change and energy that will help move Europe towards a low-carbon economy and increase its energy security is formed by the Effort Sharing legislation, that   establishes binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for all Member States for the periods 2013–2020 and 2021–2030. These targets concern emissions from most sectors not included in the (EU ETS), such as transport, buildings, agriculture and waste ( Furthermore, under EU legislation adopted in May 2018, EU Member States have to ensure that greenhouse gas emissions from land use, land use change or forestry (LULUCF) are offset by at least an equivalent removal of CO₂ from the atmosphere in the period 2021 to 2030.

Furthermore, the Regulation on the inclusion of greenhouse gas emissions and removals from LULUCF into the 2030 climate and energy framework (adopted by the Council on 14 May 2018) implements the agreement between EU leaders 2014 that all sectors should contribute to the EU’s 2030 emission reduction target, including the land use sector. It is also in line with the Paris Agreement, which points to the critical role of the land use sector in reaching long-term climate mitigation objectives  (

The principles of Poland’s implementation of obligations related to the functioning of the EU ETS and non-ETS are defined by two basic legal acts, i.e. Act of 17 July 2009 on the System to Manage the Emissions of Greenhouse Gases and Other Substances (Journal of Laws No. 2018 item 1271 as amended) and Act of 12 June 2015 on greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system (Journal of Laws 2018 item 1201, as amended), as well as executive regulations issued for these acts. The Act  on greenhouse gas emission allowance trading system defines, among others,  responsibilities of the participants of the system, i.e. installations and aircraft operators, and also regulates the principles of the system’s functioning, the allocation of allowances and the tasks of entities administering the system and supervising bodies. The Act of 17 July 2009 set out the rules of managing emissions of GHG and other substances as well as those not covered by the EU ETS system, and also – the tasks of the National Centre for Emissions Management (KOBiZE) established at the Institute of Environmental Protection – National Research Institute in Warsaw. Currently, the works are carried out amend both Acts to introduce necessary amendments, among others those in line with the  EU’s legislation,  including the  Directive 2018/410.

Centre for Climate Law Studies

W ramach realizacji Projektu przewidziano utworzenie Centrum Studiów Prawno-Klimatycznych CSPK).  Działalność CSPK skupi się na prowadzeniu badań nad ustawodawstwem dotyczącym zmian klimatu, w tym działań mitygacyjnych, w celu tworzenia optymalnych strategii oraz narzędzi prawnych, wspierających i wzmacniających gospodarkę w kierunku skutecznej realizacji przez Polskę jej zobowiązań unijnych i międzynarodowych w zakresie przeciwdziałania zmianom klimatu. CSPK będzie realizowało przede wszystkim zadania miękkie związane z rozwojem bazy wiedzy ukierunkowanej na kształtowanie legislacji i polityki, której docelowymi adresatami będą w szczególności organy administracji rządowej oraz samorządowej (decydenci różnego szczebla).

Przedmiotem badań CSPK będą obowiązujące przepisy prawa krajowego, unijnego i międzynarodowego w obszarze przeciwdziałania zmianom klimatu i adaptacji do tych zmian. Działalność badawcza CSPK będzie się także koncentrowała wokół regulacji przyjętych w innych państwach pod kątem oceny ich skuteczności i ewentualnej adaptacji w obszarze prawa lub polityki krajowej. Prowadzone badania będą uwzględniały specyfikę różnych sektorów gospodarki, ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem sektorów najbardziej wrażliwych na zmiany klimatu.

CSPK będzie śledzić toczące się postępowania zarówno przed sądami krajowymi, unijnymi i międzynarodowymi pod kątem wpływu orzecznictwa tych sądów na kształt i praktykę stosowania obowiązujących w Polsce przepisów z zakresu problematyki przeciwdziałania zmianom klimatu. Ponadto CSPK będzie monitorować procedury legislacyjne i formułować wnioski dotyczące zmiany przepisów prawa krajowego oraz przygotowywać propozycje tych zmian. Przedmiotem zainteresowania CSPK będą również oceny skutków regulacji w kontekście opracowania propozycji metodyk doskonalenia tych ocen w odniesieniu do projektów aktów prawnych dotyczących problematyki zmian klimatu i adaptacji do nich.

Oprócz wspomnianej działalności badawczej CSPK będzie zajmowało się upowszechnianiem wiedzy na temat prawa ochrony klimatu i adaptacji do jego zmian. Upowszechnianie tej wiedzy będzie następowało m. in poprzez konferencje naukowe o zasięgu ogólnopolskim i międzynarodowym jak również poprzez seminaria dedykowane wybranym grupom pracowników administracji rządowej i samorządowej, ze szczególnym uwzględnieniem jednostek samorządu terytorialnego obejmujących swoim zasięgiem obszary szczególnie narażone na skutki zmian klimatu i ekstremalne zjawiska pogodowe.