Poland fights carbon cuts in EU again: draft

BRUSSELS Tue Jun 12, 2012 1:40pm EDT

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Coal-reliant Poland has pitched itself against the other 26 members of the European Union ahead of a debate on a low-carbon energy future this week, EU sources said.

The Commission aims to establish policy direction once a set of green energy goals runs out in 2020.

Poland has repeatedly objected to any language in EU texts pointing towards deeper carbon cuts to guide decision-making for the years following 2020, when the EU is set to meet a binding target of a 20 percent emissions cut from 1990 levels.

On Friday in Luxembourg, EU energy ministers will debate an energy 2050 road map published in December, which sets out the route towards almost zero carbon power generation by the middle of the century.

Draft conclusions seen by Reuters, ahead of Friday's meeting, showed one delegation raised "a strong concern" over the use of the word "decarbonisation".

The delegation was not identified in the document, but EU sources said it was Poland.

A spokeswoman for Poland said it was too early to comment.

New German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier sought to bring up the debate on deeper carbon cuts at an EU meeting on Monday.

Poland showed no sign of any shift, and discussion was short, but Altmaier said he would continue seeking to persuade Poland to change its attitude.

FUEL TAX PROPOSALS

While the two countries have differing views on the environment, an EU official who asked not to be named said Germany had stood by Poland in opposing EU plans to change the way energy is taxed.

The Commission, the EU's executive arm, wants to update EU energy taxation law to bring it more closely in line with the wider effort to become a low-carbon economy. Fuel would be taxed on the basis of its carbon emissions as well as its energy content.

Finance ministers are expected to have a preliminary debate on the proposals at a meeting on June 22, a draft agenda showed.

"They both have subsidies for their coal industries, and they are the two main polluting countries that have been blocking the inclusion of carbon dioxide in the Energy Tax Directive," said one EU official with reference to Germany and Poland. "They basically want no change."

Poland also has some backing in its opposition to a new target for green energy to follow on from the existing 2020 goal of increasing the share of renewables in the energy mix to 20 percent.

The draft conclusions ahead of Friday's Luxembourg meeting said "a number of delegations" called for deletion of a reference to increasing the share of renewables to around 30 percent in 2030.

Britain's Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey has said the focus should be on cutting carbon emissions, rather than setting a new renewables goal.

Britain has argued that could be unfair to other zero carbon generation, namely nuclear.

Poland said in April it considered that any decisions on increasing the share of renewables should be taken at a national, rather than an EU level.

(Additional reporting by John O'Donnell in Brussels and Maciej Onoszko in Warsaw; editing by Rex Merrifield and Jane Baird)

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