EUROPEAN ENERGY NEWS: Poland’s carbon emissions billions ‘to be spent on coal’


Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk
Poland’s Prime Minister Donald Tusk

Billions of euros from the sale of EU carbon credits and free emissions allowances, given in exchange for commitments to diversify Poland’s energy mix, will instead be spent on coal and cutting the country’s budget deficit, climate campaigners have said.

The allegations, by Greenpeace, the WWF and the Climate Action Network, are made in a report ahead of October’s summit of EU leaders in Brussels and put the spotlight on Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk’s patchy record on climate change.

“If the billions in free carbon allowances and other exemptions had been used as they were intended,  ​Poland could by now have kick-started a viable clean energy​sector,” said Joris den Blanken, EU climate policy director at Greenpeace Europe.

“Instead, the allowances have supported the use of coal and done almost nothing to reduce Poland’s dependence on Russian energy imports.”

 The summit could be the last time that Tusk represents Poland in international energy negotiations before he takes over as President of the European Council in December, a role in which he must broker consensus among member states.  

EU leaders will aim to reach agreement on carbon emission targets for 2030 and to inform the EU’s position at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. 

In January, Tusk opposed the weakened EU proposal for a binding 40% CO2 cut, a 27% share of renewables in Europe’s energy mix, and 30% improvement in energy wastage.

Tusk hosted the 19th UN Climate Change Conference in 2013, amid widespread criticism of his country’s record on climate change.

He changed his minister for the environment in the middle of the conference, appointing Maciej Grabowski, an economist and backer of shale gas extraction.

Grabowski announced in June that around 60 exploratory shale gas wells had been dug in Poland, which is in the forefront of European exploration for shale. The UK is the only other EU country seeking to develop a shale gas industry

The EU decision-making timetable

23-24 Oct.: Member states decide on the energy efficiency targets in the EU Council

Oct. 2014: European Council expected to agree 2030 climate and energy targets

Dec. 2014: UNFCCC Climate Summit in Lima, Peru

Dec. 2015: UNFCCC Climate Summit in Paris expected to agree outline of global legally-binding climate treaty

2017: Next review of the measures on energy efficiency planned by the Commission

2020: Deadline for EU to meet target of 20% greenhouse gas reduction as measured against 1990 levels, a 20% share for renewable energy in the bloc’s energy mix, and a non-binding goal of a 20% energy efficiency improvement, measured against 2005 levels.

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