Polish president says won’t ratify Kyoto carbon-cutting pact

Andrzej Duda

Andrzej Duda, President of the Republic of Poland, addresses the general debate of the General Assembly’s seventieth session. [United Nations Photo/Flickr]

Poland’s new conservative president on Tuesday (27 October) refused to endorse an amendment to the United Nation’s Kyoto Protocol that would require the coal-dependent EU country to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

A Brussels-based environmental policy think tank said the decision “stalls the ratification process” on measures to reduce emissions just a month ahead of the landmark UN climate summit in Paris.

But President Andrzej Duda said more analysis of the measure was required.

“Binding Poland to an international agreement affecting the economy and with associated social costs should be preceded by a detailed analysis of the legal and economic impact,” he said in a statement.

“These effects have not been sufficiently explained,” Duda added, defending his refusal to back the measure.

In line with the United Nations’ Kyoto pact, which took effect in 2005, the European Union agreed to slash greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by 2020 compared with 1990 levels.

The Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only legally binding global emissions treaty, expired at the end of 2012. At climate talks in Doha in December 2012, the 144 parties to the treaty agreed to extend the deal to 2020. But not all countries have ratified the text.

Duda’s move came just two days after his conservative allies in the Law and Justice party won parliamentary elections.

The party has vowed to protect Poland’s loss-making state-owned coal sector.

The country of 38 million, which is enjoying steady economic growth, gets around 90% of its electricity from burning coal.

Experts say Poland’s outgoing parliament would need a three-fifths majority to overturn the presidential veto. But few believe parliament will convene to vote on the matter.

The move comes ahead of the November 30-December 11 UN conference in Paris, which aims to seal a landmark climate-rescue deal after more than two decades of fraught negotiations.

“The Polish presidential move stalls the ratification process,” Kamila Paquel, a senior analyst with the Brussels-based Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP) think-tank, told AFP via email Tuesday.

“The newly elected Polish political leadership has provided a signal that it is not supportive of EU and international climate policy,” she added.

“Full ratification would allow the EU’s legally binding commitments in the second Kyoto period (2013-20) to enter into force in international law,” Paquel said.

Greenpeace Poland said Duda’s decision was a “bad sign”, saying it could delay the EU’s compliance with further emissions reductions or even trigger a “stalemate on decision-making” in the 28-member bloc.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in December 1997 by the 3rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and opened for signature in March 1998.

The protocol commits industrialised countries to reduce during the period 2008-2012 their collective emission of six greenhouse gases (GHG) by 5.2% from 1990 levels. Under the protocol, the EU committed itself to reduce GHG emissions by 8%.

To enter into force, the protocol had to be ratified by 55 countries, and the developed countries that have ratified must account for at least 55% of 1990 emissions. The world's biggest polluters, China and the USA, never ratified it.

Kyoto expired at the end of 2012 but the 144 parties to the treaty agreed to extend the deal to 2020 at climate talks in Doha in December 2012. Some signatories have yet to ratify the text.


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