Poland resists EU push for deeper CO2 emission cuts

Image caption,
Poland is rich in coal and does not want to import more Russian gas to generate electricity

Poland has signalled its opposition to an EU plan for deeper carbon emission cuts, which environment ministers will discuss on Friday.

Denmark, currently steering EU negotiations, is backed by the UK in calling for a 25% cut in CO2 emissions by 2020. Previously the target was 20%.

But Poland, reliant on coal for more than 90% of its electric power, fears the move would make energy more costly.

Coal and other fossil fuels emit CO2, seen as a catalyst for climate change.

Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper says that "tomorrow Poland is ready to veto the EU plan to reduce CO2 emissions".

Poland's Environment Minister Marcin Korolec has sent a letter to his EU colleagues urging them to reject the 25% target, the Financial Times newspaper reports.

"There is no point whatsoever in gambling with the European economy's future, introducing policies that might put our industries in jeopardy versus our competitors," he was quoted as saying.

The Polish government fears the cost of having to convert or close its coal-fired power stations, which provide cheap electricity for industry.

Last June the EU's efforts to toughen CO2 emissions targets were blocked by Poland acting alone.

This time Poland's position is supported by the Czech Republic, Romania and one of the Baltic countries, Gazeta Wyborcza reports.

EU's green ambitions

The EU's new climate ambitions are contained in a European CommissionRoadmap for moving to a competitive low-carbon economy in 2050.

It says the most cost-efficient way of moving to a low-carbon economy is by achieving a 40% cut in CO2 emissions by 2030 and a 25% cut by 2020, compared with 1990 emission levels.

The overall target is an 80% cut by 2050, based on the "greening" of industry, investment in energy-efficient electric cars and housing, renewable energy and modernised, "smart" electricity grids.

In a statement to the BBC the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change said the 25% cut would actually mean 30% "when you factor in international carbon credits/offsetting".

A department spokesman said "we strongly support the findings in the roadmap.

"It shows that the current target in 2020 is simply not cost-effective.

"The first step is that the ministers attending the [EU] Environment Council must reach conclusions on the roadmap. Poland previously blocked this in June 2011 but we remain hopeful that progress can be made.

"Moving to a higher target will bring other benefits such as reducing our dependence on imported energy, stimulating jobs and growth in green sectors, and delivering health benefits from reduced pollution."

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