German environment chief seeks dialogue with Poland over climate neutrality

At last week's EU summit, a majority of 22 member states voted to reduce their greenhouse gases by 2050 to the technically feasible minimum, as well as to offset remaining emissions. [Clemens Bilan/ epa]

German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze announced that she will be holding talks with representatives of all states that have so far refused to join the EU’s carbon neutrality objective for 2050. EURACTIV Germany reports.

After EU heads of state and government failed to agree on a carbon neutrality objective by 2050 last week, environment ministers debated in Luxembourg on Wednesday (26 June) the current state of negotiations and the EU Commission’s opinion on national climate plans for 2030.

EU takes stock after climate deal disappointment

EU environment ministers met on Wednesday (26 June) to take stock of how a landmark climate deal fell short of a final agreement last week. Signs now suggest that the European Council will stick to its end-of-year deadline and Poland will finally get on board.

Now, it is important “to listen again to those states that could not agree and that’s exactly what I’ll do,” Schulze announced after the meeting. She had already held bilateral talks with her colleagues from the Czech Republic and Estonia.

Next week Schulze also wants to meet with Polish Environment Minister Henryk Kowalczyk. We will “work with everyone to find solutions,” she added.

At last week’s EU summit, a majority of 24 member states voted to reduce their greenhouse gases by 2050 to the technically feasible minimum, as well as to offset remaining emissions. This is regarded as a necessary step towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.

After Germany first expressed its opposition to this ambition at the EU summit in May, it then made a U-turn. Following that, Hungary also considered supporting this goal a few days before last week’s summit but stressed the role of nuclear energy.

After intensive negotiations though, mainly driven by France, Hungary finally joined Poland.

Hungary was considered to be one of the toughest member state to convince on climate neutrality because it still heavily relies on coal. To replace its coal with renewable energy, it would have to make far greater investments than other EU member states.

Together with Poland, the Czech Republic and Estonia also rejected climate neutrality by 2050.

According to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, there is no “precise analysis of the costs” that would be incurred in reaching the climate neutrality goal.

Jadwiga Emilewicz, the Polish minister for entrepreneurship and technology, stressed after the summit that the geographical and territorial diversity of individual states needed to be taken into account in the negotiations for a Europe-wide energy transition.

Poland’s multi-billion-euro clean air quest in peril

A €25 billion clean air programme launched by the Polish government is in danger of losing EU support. Warsaw has until Friday (21 June) to prove its commitment, according to a letter sent by the European Commission and seen by EURACTIV.

Environmentalists had urged EU heads of state to send a strong signal to the UN by agreeing on carbon neutrality by 2050. But the bloc will now go to a summit in September without a fully-finalised deal in its pocket.

The next ordinary climate conference will take place in Chile in December, where further commitments and agreements are expected to be concluded.

Before that, the EU Council will meet in October, at which point there should be another opportunity for the EU to make a binding commitment to work towards carbon neutrality.

[Edited by Sam Morgan]

New Danish government puts climate change centre stage

Only a few days after the European Union failed to agree on 2050 carbon neutral climate target, Denmark’s Social Democrats and their three center-left allies agreed on Wednesday (26 June) on a political program that aims at promoting one of the most ambitious climate policies in the world.

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