Poland says will cooperate on climate change – for a fee

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Poland says it will need cash and help in curbing its emissions if it is to sign up for a new decade of EU green energy policy at talks this month, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The document shows the 28 EU member states are broadly ready to agree a new set of 2030 goals to follow on from 2020 energy and environment policy, although Europe’s biggest power Germany says it will not agree a deal “at any price”.

Poland has always been the most reluctant of EU member states to sign up for ambitious climate policy before the rest of the world.

It argues that EU emissions account for only a small part of the world’s pollution, and that Poland needs help in moving away from its heavy dependency on coal, the most carbon-intensive of the fossil fuels.

The briefing document, drawn up by EU officials ahead of a summit of EU leaders on 23-24 October, says Poland is not convinced about the need for a deal now, but “is working in the spirit of not blocking an agreement”.

Members of the current European Commission, meant to step down at the end of this month making way for a new set of officials, say the EU must decide now on its negotiating position ahead of U.N. talks on a global pact on tackling climate change to be hosted by Paris next year.

The executive EU Commission outlined in January its vision for 2030 goals, including a 40% cut in carbon emissions compared with 1990 levels, an improvement in energy efficiency to 30% versus business as usual and a target to get 27% of energy used from renewable sources.

That compares with 2020 targets of a 20% cut in greenhouse gases, a 20% improvement in energy savings and increasing the share of renewables to 20%.

Member states broadly agree with minor reservations. Germany puts forward goals rounded up to 40, 30 and 30, saying it wants to conclude “an ambitious and balanced” agreement, but not at any price.

Poland’s price

A separate draft document prepared by EU officials ahead of the summit says each nation should be required to stabilise or cut emissions not regulated by the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS) by between 0-40% under 2005 levels by 2030.

But Poland insists it needs more time, and is only willing to stop growing its non-ETS emissions from 2020, which would effectively allow half of the country’s emissions to rise 14% over 2005 levels by 2030.

This would force other nations to make a bigger reduction effort and already appears to be unacceptable for France, which says “no member state should increase emissions” under a 2030 deal.

As member states close in on an agreement, industry interests have been lobbying hard.

Some utilities dislike the renewables goal because they say the grid is struggling to cope with intermittent solar and wind energy.

The energy efficiency goal, meanwhile, pits firms active in insulation and industries wanting to use less energy against energy supply companies whose business model depends on customers buying more.

Britain, which has just won EU approval for a new nuclear power plant to be operated by French utility EDF, supports the 40% greenhouse gas target and says the 27% renewables goal is “okay” as long as only binding at EU-wide level.

On energy efficiency, it says it is “uncomfortable”, but could live with an EU-wide goal.

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.

  • 23-24 October: EU Council will finalise 2030 energy and climate targets
  • 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

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