Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

Coal-dependent Poland 'behaves' in Paris

  • Poland gets most of its electricity from coal, one of the dirtiest fossil fuels (Photo: Kris Duda)

Fears that Poland will derail the negotiating process at the climate conference in Paris have, so far, not come true.

The summit, where 195 countries, plus the EU, are trying to reach a global climate treaty, is approaching the final phase of talks, with meetings lasting until 5am on Thursday morning (10 December).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Poland's Duda: 'Decarbonisation not in our interest' (Photo: Andrzej Hrechorowicz)

In the months leading up to the summit, Polish politicians had been very vocal about defending the country's coal industry - most of the country's electricity is generated from the highly polluting fossil fuel.

In an interview with Politico in August, Poland's president Andrzej Duda said that “decarbonisation is completely not in our interest.” He made his remarks ahead of parliamentary elections in September, during which his right-wing party Law and Justice (PiS) won an absolute majority.

PiS member of parliament Piotr Naimski, who has energy in his portfolio, made even more strident comments during the election campaign, criticizing the EU position that the Paris agreement should be a legally binding.

“Any binding stance that would be accepted at the conference in Paris will be harmful to Poland, so a failure of the summit is in Poland's interest," Naimski said according to Reuters.

But here in Paris, it seems that the Polish delegation is not carrying out its threats, which appear to have been more for domestic consumption.

“We have an EU position and everybody sticks to that. I have not heard Poland is obstructing,” Helena Hellstroem Gefwert, a spokesperson for the Swedish delegation, told EUobserver on Wednesday.

“Poland is not stepping on the brakes,” a source from a second EU member state, who asked to be anonymous, said.

A third EU source noted that Poland is “really constructive” in Paris, showing “openness” to having a reference in the treaty text to “1.5,” which is climate jargon for limitng the future temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. During the two-week talks, an increasing number of delegations seem willing to mention 1.5, in addition to repeating an already agreed ceiling of 2 degrees.

“I don't think they [Poland] will create a mess here,” the third contact told this website on Thursday (10 December). “They behave here, they don't want to ruin the process.”

In what some say was partly a tactical move to quell potential opposition, French foreign minister Laurent Fabius named Poland's environment minister Jan Szyszko as one of his “co-facilitators” - neutral mediators that try to reach agreement on specific topics of the treaty.

But Szyszko's experience as an environment minister (he held the post two times before) probably played a role as well.

Multiple sources confirmed that Luxembourg held a bilateral meeting with Poland to confirm it will stick to the EU line, as agreed at an EU ministerial meeting in September - a week before the Polish election.

Luxembourg holds the rotating EU presidency and together with climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete, speaks on behalf of the EU in Paris.

In the bilateral, Poland said it understood it could not change the mandate that has been agreed by environment ministers in Brussels.

In fact, as one source pointed out, a global treaty is in Poland's interest.

Part of Poland's opposition to strict emissions reduction targets in Brussels stem from the concern it will lose its competitive edge with non-EU countries that don't have such strict targets.

For Poland, a level-playing field is crucial.

There is also an expectation that Poland is keeping its powder dry for after the Paris deal. Once the EU's commitments are cemented in the agreement, the battle will be how to divide the CO2 emisssion cuts among member states.

It’s the battle in Brussels where Polish sparks are more likely to fly.

Feature

Can Germany phase out coal power?

Germany's politicians and public have agreed to leave nuclear energy behind, but a mooted phase-out of coal-power generation may not be so easily achieved.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson is next British prime minister
  2. Johnson set to be announced British PM on Tuesday
  3. UK-based owners of .eu domains could keep name
  4. Weyand: EU would respond to US tariffs on cars
  5. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  6. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  7. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  8. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'
  2. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  3. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  4. Abortion Wars
  5. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  6. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  7. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  8. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us