Poland says EU ‘blackmail’ hampers climate goals

Withholding EU funds through ‘blackmail’ could endanger Poland’s energy transformation, warned Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on the sidelines of the COP26 summit in Glasgow. [EPA-EFE/Andrzej Lange]

Withholding EU funds through ‘blackmail’ could endanger Poland’s energy transformation, warned Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on the sidelines of the COP26 summit in Glasgow on Monday (1 November).

Morawiecki was clear that if Poland participates comparably to other countries in achieving “ambitious climate goals”, they must be provided with the appropriate funds.

His comments come as Poland is set to get up to €57 billion in EU recovery funds, but the executive has withheld approval amid the ongoing standoff over the rule of law.

“There can be no blackmail from other elements of European policy because any attempt to take away funds … will mean that political blackmail from Brussels dominates over the achievement of climate goals,” he added.

His words were not necessarily addressed to the audience in Glasgow but back home.

As EURACTIV reported earlier, the European Commission has offered a roadmap for de-escalating a rule-of-law crisis with Poland. 

But for observers in Warsaw, it seems unlikely the Polish government will be ready to swallow the bitter pill since this would endanger the current ruling coalition between PiS and the party’s far-right junior coalition partner, led by Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro.

At the same time, with the departure of climate minister Michal Kurtyka from the government, Poland could be losing a diplomatic approach to climate. His successor will be Anna Moskwa, an executive in charge of offshore wind farm projects at state refiner PKN Orlen SA.

In Glasgow, Poland made no specific commitments regarding the decarbonisation of the economy or moving away from coal. Still, it reiterated that its contribution to reducing CO2 emissions is reflected in the position of the EU.

“The EU was the first economy to adopt climate neutrality targets and decided to increase its emissions reduction to 55% by 2030. Many countries have followed the EU, but global challenges require global efforts,” Morawiecki said.

He noted that “we are moving towards climate neutrality, but we cannot forget the economic consequences caused by the pandemic and the situations of individual countries.”

The coal industry provides around 70% of Poland’s energy.

“If we want to act in solidarity with the climate, we also have to take into account that the position of the US and the rich countries of Western Europe is completely different to the position of Central European countries, such as Poland,” Morawiecki said.

When it comes to the energy transition, “not everyone starts from the same place”, and a just transition must take into account the fact that Western societies have used fossil fuels for 200 years,” Morawiecki said.

(Paulina Borowska | EURACTIV.pl / Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

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