48 (143) 2021

Editorial note

Editorial note

By Michael Dembinski, chief advisor, and Dorota Kierbiedź, membership director
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We are extremely proud to bring you this transformative issue of Contact Magazine Online. As the pandemic hopefully wanes, we stand at the beginning of a new era where mankind rolls back the climate change brought on by fossil-fuel-powered industrialisation. This is a historic milestone of an issue – the world will be moving in this direction at an ever-faster pace. This year’s UN climate change conference, COP26, takes place in Glasgow, making this a good time to set out what the BPCC’s members are doing to tackle the environmental challenges facing mankind. Taken together, the articles and interviews give an excellent overview of the current situation – and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

There are two stand-out interviews with Polish innovators whose inventions may re-shape our future. We hope that in decades to come, they’ll be recognised worldwide for these breakthroughs.

Olga Malinkiewicz, the scientist who invented a way to print a translucent crystal with photovoltaic (PV) properties onto film on a commercial scale, talks about the future of renewable energy (imagine every south-facing office window turned into a solar panel).

Rafał Budweil has devised a solution with the potential to change the way mankind travels into city centres from the suburbs – an electric vehicle that can switch between the properties of a car and a motorcycle. His firm, Triggo, has just had a successful IPO on the Warsaw Stock Exchange; plans for global expansion.

The green transformation that awaits us will be driven by funding public and private. The EU’s next multiannual budget will be focused on Covid recovery and combating climate change – the ‘Green Deal’. PwC’s Agnieszka Gajewska talks about how the money will be spent and the EU’s priorities – environment and digital.

BP is transforming too, from an oil company to an energy company with stringent internal targets to meet on its journey to net-zero carbon neutrality. How this will transformation will look on the Polish market is outlined by the head of BP in Poland, Bogdan Kucharski.

Private-sector finance will be greener, too. BNP Paribas’ Adam Hirny explains that banks are already ceasing to fund projects that harm the planet – BNP Paribas won’t invest in coal-powered energy. Sustainable finance is the future.

Business will be adopting a new mindset where sustainability is the watchword. This will be noticeable in manufacturing, construction and services.

Scotland will host COP26 in November, giving it a chance to showcase its world-leading expertise in renewable energy. Michal Sobczyk, senior trade advisor at Scottish International Development, with Angelika Gronowska, senior political advisor, and Janusz Bil, director, Energy and Mining, British Embassy Warsaw, cover the ground ahead of the UN conference, setting out the opportunities for cooperation between Scotland, the UK and Poland in terms of sustainable energy.

Transitioning from a world powered by fossil fuels to one in which renewable energy sources (RES) take up the demand requires a clear road-map. Radoslaw Gnutek from Bilfinger Tebodin explains in a step-by-step guide how to achieve that goal – and the engineering challenges that lie ahead.

The construction sector is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. One firm that’s well ahead of the curve in terms of limiting its environmental footprint is Skanska. Christopher Siemieński explains what action Skanska is taking to reduce its carbon intensity.

Putting up buildings needs to be done in a more environmentally friendly way – but so does using them, argues Sophie Chick, head of world research at Savills, saying that regulation will become increasingly onerous, and so business owners will need to mitigate risk by taking action now.

One often asks oneself “how green is green?” Many firms are happier to apply the greenwash than to take those often-costly steps to cutting emissions. The EU, which will be offering vast amounts of public money in grants and loans to business, has set out a taxonomy of what genuinely counts as sustainable, so as to avoid individual interpretations. Gleeds Polska’s sustainability department takes a look at the new EU taxonomy which comes into force this December, which sets out to categorise objectively investments in terms of their environmental impact.

Dr Ryszard Stefański from energy company EWE Polska, explains how factories and other energy-intensive users of electricity can switch to RES. The costs of building a solar farm have fallen four-fold over the past decade, making energy from renewable sources more affordable than ever.

Putting up your own solar farm might be good for the environment, but it also brings with it new obligations in terms of waste management. Oliwia Kruczyńska and Aleksandra Hajdukiewicz from Kołecka Law Firm consider the new compliance issues facing solar-farm operators. Drive to green energy generation in Poland.

Igor Hanas and Rafał Pytko from law firm Wardyński & Partners discuss alternative models for procuring energy, given the price-rises that can be expected from traditional energy sources. They look at RES installations and corporate Power Purchase Agreements as potential answers.

Investing in RES also has tax implications for companies. Dariusz Stolarek, partner, Tax Advisory Group, at Dentons considers the key stages of an investment in typical RES project to show where particular attention needs to be taken from the taxation point of view.

Dr Katarzyna Barańska from law firm Kochański & Partners considers the risk-assessment necessary when dealing with environmental compliance. It’s worth remembering that as well as carrots to tempt us to a more righteous path, there are also sticks with which to punish the recalcitrant!

All around the world, we are seeing increasing numbers of cases to do with climate-change litigation. Activists, as well as those affected by the negative environmental effects of firms’ activities, are taking on business in court. How this trend is shaping up – and here in Poland too – is considered by Maja Frontczak and Łukasz Ostas from Gessel Attorneys at Law.

Office interiors offer much scope for environmentally driven savings. Aleksandra Krawsz-Kubica from Kinnarps Polska explains how the Swedish furniture company is at the forefront of sustainable manufacturing, with a focus on prolonging its products’ lifecycles.

Cushman & Wakefield has prepared a report, Industrial Goes Green, on sustainability solutions that can be used in industrial premises to reduce the environmental footprint of such facilities. The report suggests that three out of five industrial tenants would want to move into green-certified factories or warehouses. More details here and here.

In the warehouse-space market, the green approach to the construction and operation of buildings is no longer a fashion but has become the new standard, says Waldemar Witczak of SEGRO.

Similar trends are observable in the office-space market too, as companies begin to see their commitment to environmental protection as a key aspect in their operations, says Dominika Oleksa from JLL.

Restoring former industrial land, often contaminated, pays dividends when that land is in sought-after locations. Tomasz Galoch from RSK Polska explains how remediation of such plots is feasible, and what steps need to be undertaken to ensure a profitable – and clean – venture.

Dr Allan Lawrence from Projects Beyond Borders puts the ‘E’ in ‘ESG’ – environmental, social and governance – into a broader social perspective of a post-pandemic world. Social inequality has been rising as a result of Covid-19, and businesses should take heed of their social impact, as well as their impact on the environment.

Tom Nutt of Grayling UK & Europe argues that ‘Business for Good’ policies have shifted from being a nice-to-have marketing tool to a crucial part of any major business’s corporate make-up. The positive social impact of business has been a key barometer by which companies have been judged by customers and the public during the pandemic; businesses are now looking to incorporate positive social-value policies into longer-term business goals. ESG strategies are the means of achieving this.

HR law in the digital age

Michał Bodziony and Bartosz Wszeborowski from law firm PCS Paruch Chruściel Schiffter | Littler Global consider the do’s and don’ts of HR practice in the digital age. How much can you do without legally requiring a face-to-face meeting or a wet-ink signature?

Real Estate Investment Trusts for Poland?

The BPCC’s Real Estate & Construction policy group met online on 28 April to discuss the lack of REITs legislation in Poland, as a result of which only 3% of all commercial real-estate transactions currently involve domestic capital. What can be done to encourage Polish investors to invest in profitable commercial real-estate projects? As a new legislative project gets under way, investors, developers and real-estate consultants discuss what are the best options for the sector in Poland.


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