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02/12/2016

Polish public swings behind EU climate plan

Energy

Polish public swings behind EU climate plan

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The majority of Poles support a proposed 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and overwhelmingly back more renewable energy builds to save them from energy dependency on Russia, according to a poll carried out by the global civic movement, Avaaz.

The survey’s results were released today ahead of an EU summit, which is expected to focus on the Ukraine crisis, with climate issues expected to be relegated to a perfunctory exchange before the summit’s end on Friday afternoon.

Poland has led efforts to block any deal this year on climate and energy targets for 2030, mobilising a coalition of central and eastern European nations, under Hungary’s formal stewardship, to argue for greater burden sharing in any final agreement.

“We want clarification of the [global] level of ambition before the UN summit in September,” one EU diplomat from the group told journalists yesterday (19 March). “There's one figure we want to know – emissions – and that's enough.”

“We don't expect major surprises [at the summit], but we would like a roadmap,” he added.

But according to the new poll, Polish leaders are out of touch with their electorate. The poll finds that:

  • 88% of Poles want their government to focus on building renewable energy to increase independence from Russian gas supplies
  • 59% of Poles want their prime minister, Donald Tusk, to support efforts to cut carbon emissions by at least 40% by 2030
  • 67% of Poles view climate change as a threat that will affect their lives in coming years
  • 57% said that candidates’ positions on renewable energy and climate issues would probably their voting plans in future elections

The survey of 1,000 people was conducted by computer assisted telephone interviewing techniques between 14-16 March.

“Poland’s government will show itself out of step with its own people, and with business, scientists, and most European countries until it says yes to climate goals,” said Alex Wilks, Avaaz Campaign Director. “If no decision is taken this week, it will hobble Europe’s leadership in the race to save our planet.”

The poll comes as a deluge of letters from the clean energy business sector arrives at EU ministers’ front doors. Three thousand European small businesses signed a single letter, calling for a 50% cut in carbon emissions by 2030, while a petition with the same demand has gathered almost 350,000 signatures.

Another missive from the Polish Business and Science Platform repeats the call for early adoption of the EU’s climate package, or something more ambitious.

“As business leaders we call upon you to swiftly adopt a robust package during your Council negotiations this week so as to send a clear signal to your peers across the globe and most importantly to business leaders and investors doing business in Europe,” the group says.

Background

The EU’s 2030 climate and energy framework package was presented on 22 January 2014 as a successor to the three 20-20-20 targets of 20% greenhouse gas cuts, improvements in energy efficiency and renewable energy market penetration, all by 2020. The energy efficiency goal is non-binding and remains the only one the bloc is not on track to meet.

For 2030, the EU framework has proposed:

  • A 40% greenhouse gas reduction target that is binding at nation state level and may not be met by carbon offsets
  • The use of carbon offsets to meet further emissions reduction commitments made in international climate talks
  • A 27% renewable energy target that is binding at an aggregate European level but voluntary for individual member states
  • No consideration of any new energy efficiency target until after a June 2014 review of the Energy Efficiency Directive  
  • Non-binding shale gas recommendations which could be made binding after a review in 2015
  • A market reserve facility for the Emissions Trading System, with the power to withhold or release up to 100 million allowances
  • An end to the Fuel Quality Directive, which mandates reductions in the greenhouse gas intensity of transport fuels, by 2020

The package was widely received as a compromise reflecting the balance of power between various member states at the European Council. It will now be discussed by MEPs at the European Parliament and EU heads of state at the European Council before a final version is agreed.

Timeline

  • March 21 2014: EU summit will discuss climate and energy issues
  • May 2014: New EU Parliament to be elected
  • May 2014: EU member states must prepare schemes for their energy companies to deliver annual energy savings of 1.5% as part of the Energy Efficiency Directive
  • June 2014: Review of progress towards meeting the 2020 energy efficiency target
  • June 2014: EU Council will discuss energy and climate issues
  • September 2014: UN change summit 
  • December 2015: Paris COP summit
  • 2020: Deadline for EU states to meet binding targets for 20% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, improvements in energy efficiency, and market share for renewable energy

Further Reading