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UPDATE 2-Polish firms welcome and activists reject Poland's 2040 energy policy

(Adds comment by state-run energy group PGE)

WARSAW, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Poland on Tuesday adopted an energy strategy to 2040 that the climate minister said would provide a compass as the country seeks to navigate away from coal.

The strategy - PEP2040 - has been subject to numerous changes and delays as the government sought to align it with European Union climate policies and fend off opposition from powerful coal unions.

The government’s energy policy goals include development of renewable energy sources and nuclear power, although it said it would seek to use its own energy resources, chiefly coal, as long as possible.

Under the plan, the share of renewable energy in final energy consumption will rise to at least 23% by 2030, when the country’s offshore wind capacity is seen at 5.9 gigawatts (GW) compared with zero now.

The government also pledged to start a first nuclear plant with capacity of 1.0 GW to 1.6 GW.

Poland gets the bulk of its electricity from carbon-intensive coal, and it is the only EU state that has refused to pledge climate neutrality by 2050, saying it needs more time and money to complete the shift to zero emissions.

Polish Climate Minister Michal Kurtyka said on Twitter: “#PEP2040 will be our compass in the transition to a zero-carbon economy”.

Poland’s biggest energy group, the state-run PGE, welcomed the strategy.

“This is a document expected by the entire energy sector. Just transition, a zero-emission energy system and good air quality are the pillars of PEP2040. They are also important elements of the PGE Group’s strategy,” PGE Chief Executive Wojciech Dabrowski said in a statement.

But environmental campaigners said that the government’s strategy was inadequate and to prevent further temperature rises, the EU and Poland should stop burning coal before 2030.

“It seems that Minister Kurtyka - although he is responsible for the Ministry of Climate - has forgotten about the droughts, floods or hurricane winds that affect us more and more often due to climate change. The project is also detached from the realities of European politics,” said Joanna Flisowska, head of climate and energy at Greenpeace Polska. (Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by Barbara Lewis and Steve Orlofsky)

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