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EU seeks to convince Poland on climate change target

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission convened with Polish officials on Tuesday to attempt to win support for a tougher European Union climate change target, after the country requested more analysis of the goal.

EU countries plan to agree a new 2030 goal at a summit next month, with most states - and the EU Commission - in favour of cutting emissions by at least 55% against 1990 levels. The current goal, a 40% cut by 2030, would fail to put the EU on track to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2050.

The new target needs approval from all 27 EU countries - meaning the Commission must convince Poland, which gets more than 70% of its power from coal and has said it cannot commit to deeper emissions cuts without more information on the fallout for individual countries’ economies.

Poland’s climate and environment minister, Michal Kurtyka, on Tuesday also called for an “in-depth analysis” of how the economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will affect the 2030 climate plan.

“We are lacking this information as we do not know what an increased target means for member states, for regions, for sectors,” Kurtyka told an online event hosted by online newspaper Euractiv.

“We do not want to enforce sweeping radical changes without the full view of the consequences,” he said.

EU sources said the Commission met Polish officials by videoconference on Tuesday to discuss the target. The Commission has already published an EU-wide analysis of the goal, and will hold follow-up discussions with most EU states.

A tougher 2030 goal would require a huge EU policy overhaul, and Poland has said such reforms should redirect cash to poorer countries needing support to cut emissions.

Countries including the Czech Republic have also expressed concern over the new 2030 target - although Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis last month said he could support a 55% emissions cut, so long as it was EU-wide, and not a national requirement.

Reporting by Kate Abnett, editing by Marine Strauss and Steve Orlofsky