October 1, 2013 / 3:41 PM / 6 years ago

Poland pits itself against EU climate promises

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European ministers are sharply divided over proposed promises on carbon cuts as part of U.N. negotiations, a draft document shows, with Poland at the forefront of opposition.

A meeting of environment ministers in Luxembourg on October 14 is meant to agree a joint EU stance ahead of U.N. climate talks in Warsaw in November and December.

The EU and U.N. meetings will be litmus tests of whether the latest U.N. report on climate change is spurring or slowing the appetite for international action.

The draft seen by Reuters says the main outstanding issues for the European Union related to “mitigation commitments”, or efforts to make fresh promises before 2020 within the U.N. context.

“Enhancing pre-2020 mitigation ambition will pave the way for an ambitious 2015 international agreement,” it says.

Annotations to the draft say this is especially a problem for one delegation, which EU sources said is Poland.

Heavily dependent on carbon-intensive coal, Poland has repeatedly blocked EU efforts to deepen carbon cuts.

A Polish government spokesman said he could not comment further for now. The country’s environment minister has said the EU should make no extra promises before agreement on a new U.N. deal on climate change, expected in Paris in 2015.

Poland’s stance matters particularly because it is hosting the interim U.N. climate talks next month and in December.

Its environment minister, Marcin Korolec, has said the talks will be vital preparation for a new global deal and not “an empty conference”.


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.N. body, said it was clearer than ever that mankind was to blame for climate change but noted a hiatus in global warming.

Within Europe, Denmark has sought to be the most ambitious champion of a shift to renewable energy and a cut in emissions. France has also advocated new carbon goals.

The divisions at member-state level are echoed in the European Commission, the EU executive.

For instance, Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard, a Dane, argues environmental action is the way to generate innovation, jobs and recovery. Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani, who is Italian, has flagged concerns about energy costs and competitiveness.

Those differences of opinion loom over separate EU proposals to agree green energy goals for 2030 to follow on from the already agreed 2020 EU targets.

For 2020, the EU has a goal to cut carbon by 20 percent compared with 1990 levels, which it should easily meet. The draft says that in 2011, EU emissions were 18.3 percent below 1990 levels, while gross domestic product grew by more than 40 percent over the same period.

Committing EU cash to help developed nations deal with climate change, again as part of the U.N. process, is also expected to prompt a fierce debate at a meeting of EU finance ministers on October 15.

Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Oslo; Editing by Dale Hudson

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