The Polish Chamber of Commerce (PCC) threw its weight behind Warsaw’s campaign against the EU’s decarbonisation goals for 2050 yesterday (26 June), launching a study which claims that Polish jobs, growth, inflation and the environment are under threat.

It argues that compliance with the measures in the EU's low carbon roadmap will cost the country €22.7 billion per year after 2050, a GDP slump of 10% by 2030, and a 400% increase in electricity prices after 2020.  

“The effects will be catastrophic for the polish economy and budget,” said Bolesław Jankowski, a PCC expert and author of Warsaw’s energy strategy between 1991 and 1995.

“The current problems in Greece, Portugal and Spain show that implementing [the same climate] policies and mechanisms in all EU countries could generate problems and risks,” he warned.

Environmentalists and some academics dismissed the study as a biased position paper, funded by Poland’s energy intensive industry.

Jankowski was speaking in the European Parliament at the launch of the PCC’s review of the EU’s Low Carbon Roadmap for 2050, written by an ex-government minister, and uncritically received by Poland’s environment and economy ministries, speakers said.

Polish representatives in Brussels contacted by EurActiv deferred comment to the environment ministry representative in Warsaw, who did not return calls.

The Polish veto

The coal-dependent east European country has repeatedly blocked attempts by the EU to ratify the goal of an 80-95% cut in carbon dioxide emissions across the continent by 2050.

The report, which has already been launched in Poland, has been cited by some as the reason for Poland’s veto of climate measures at past European Council meetings.

However, its results have been disputed by an economics professor at Cracow University, Krzysztof Berbeka, for neglecting the economic benefits of decarbonisation - which Greenpeace say could create 350,000 jobs in renewable energy by 2020 – and thus lacking credibility.

Other environmental groups such as the Polish Climate Coalition noted that the report was funded by two Polish power utilities - TAURON and PGE – which between them control most of Poland’s electricity output and distribution networks.

Isaac Valero Ladron, a spokesman for EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, told EurActiv that Poland was isolating itself and that the rest of the EU would “move on” with the Roadmap.

“We are working on further measures needed to reach the cost-efficient milestones,” he said. “It's difficult to understand why some businesses are against reduced energy bills and more competiveness and innovation.”

EU 'Communism'

But Marek Kłoczko, the PCC’s secretary-general accused the EU of behaving like Soviet-era Communists in pushing through an ideological environmentalism that could brook no disagreement.

He singled out the EU’s attempts to bring international airlines into the Emissions Trading System (ETS) for particular criticism.

“Europe cannot just announce some policy and then oblige others to not fly to Europe,” he told EurActiv. “Some European leaders have become kind of ideologists, and I think that economic life needs a bit more rationality,” he said.

Asked whether the EU’s environmentalism was comparable to Soviet-era communism he replied: “Yes, it is an ideology if the enemies of discussion and negotiations and facts are not taking into account some rational arguments.”

“We have got a bad lesson in history from that and are a bit afraid of that,” he added.

Kłoczko said that a compromise between Poland and the EU could involve a revision to the EU’s benchmarking rules for its carbon market, or Poland being given a less stringent target than 80-95% decarbonisation by 2050. 

But environmentalists argue that the PCC’s opposition to EU climate policy is often based on assumptions that have not been made public, and speculative guesses.

“The Polish Chamber of Commerce is playing a dangerous game in being openly hostile to an issue so critical to so many major donors to the EU budget, because they are also key investors in the Polish economy,” Sanjeev Kumar, a senior associate at the E3G environmental consultancy told EurActiv.

“The more Poland tries to block European climate legislation, the more of a backlash they are risking from governments which will almost certainly seek to protect their economies from fossil fuel-intensive countries,” he said.