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23rd Apr 2021

MEPs demand action from Barroso over climate sceptic remarks

  • Lewandowski questioned whether burning coal was an important driver of climate change (Photo: Mikko Itälahti)

A group of MEPs have demanded action from European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso, after the EU's budget commissioner expressed doubts earlier this month over the reality of global warming.

In a set of oral questions tabled on Thursday (23 June), Socialist MEP Jo Leinen, Liberal Chris Davies and Green MEP Bas Eickhout also asked for clarifications as to why Janusz Lewandowski feels the EU's emission-cutting targets are overly ambitious.

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"What is his justification to dispute the vast amount of evidence of climate change?" ask the cross-party trio of euro-deputies. "Does the commissioner oppose the EU's climate and energy package?"

With the commission just days away from publishing highly-anticipated proposals for the EU's next multi-annual budget (2014-2020), the MEPs are also keen to know how Lewandowski's comments will affect the bloc's 2020 climate ambitions and efforts at to secure greater resource-efficiency.

Crucially, the three MEPs want to know "which steps" Barroso is planning to take following the controversial comments, although how much pressure the full body of euro-deputies is willing to exert is unclear.

Speaking to a Polish trade magazine earlier this month, Lewandowski questioned whether burning coal was an important driver of climate change.

"There is a notion that the thesis that coal energy is the main cause of global warming is highly questionable," said the Polish commissioner, whose country currently secures roughly 90 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants.

"Moreover, more and more often there is a question mark put over the whole [issue of] global warming as such," he added.

A commission spokesman later clarified that Lewandowski was giving his personal views, a position the MEPs challenge.

"Commissioner Lewandowski was interviewed as EU budget commissioner and his function was mentioned in the interview's headline," they note in their questions to the commission.

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