Climate Ministry concerned with EC plans to increase cut to greenhouse emissions

The Polish Climate Ministry has expressed its concern with the European Commission's proposal to increase the reduction of the greenhouse gas emission target set for 2030.

The announcement comes in response to the State of the Union speech delivered on September 16th by the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

In the speech, the head of the EC stated that the union must revise its previously set goal to reduce emissions to 2030 by 40 percent compared to the levels in 1990, and apply a much more ambitious cut at 55 percent.

In its statement the ministry expressed dismay that the EC President has presented a new figure without presenting any supportive measures from the EU for countries which today have energy grids heavily dependent on fossil fuels and which cannot afford a green energy transformation without external aid.

According to the ministry, the new target of CO2 reduction will mean that the financial burden coming with the transformation will "not be evenly distributed over all member states, but will be greater for countries with higher emissions, such as Poland".

The ministry supported some of von der Leyen’s proposals on the EU’s future climate policy but expressed doubt whether they will be enough to achieve such a drastic cut in emissions, stating “we support the call for greater energy efficiency and an increase in the share of renewable energy, but these changes will not be enough to reach the new target”.

The ministry did, however, express approval of the EC plans to put greater emphasis on electric cars, stating “promoting electromobility, the expansion of associated charging infrastructure as well as upgrading thermal insulation of buildings is paramount. Introducing appropriate standards for cars and buildings is important”.

The Polish government representatives lauded President von der Leyen for referring to the need to reduce so-called energy poverty but the ministry stressed that the risk is high such poverty will increase in the face of the more ambitious reductions target just presented by the EC head.

The Climate Ministry stated that the importance of a possible decision on a new and higher CO2 reduction target for EU member states is "too important to be taken without thorough analysis of its effects and without understanding and planning the necessary actions to achieve this target”.

The ministry also underlined that any decisions on a new reduction target would have to be taken by the European Council.

Some experts view a higher reduction target as an opportunity

The former Environment Minister, who today serves as the President of the Foundation for Promotion of Electric Vehicles, Marcin Korolec, stresses that a higher reduction target will be difficult for all EU member states. He points to Slovakia which has 12 percent of its GDP coming from the car manufacturing sector, where 80 thousand Slovaks are employed.

Electric cars could result in an industrial revolution, a complete change of the automotive industry and ensuing job cuts, he pointed out.

"Poland has miners, Slovakia has automotive workers - and their share of the total population is much larger than that of miners in Poland” -Korolec underlined.

Korolec also assessed that Poland should present solutions rather than symbolically contesting the proposals of the European Commission.

"It is better to enter this discussion today with positive language in order to have a better negotiating position, (…) than fight symbolic battles such as opposing climate neutrality” - said the former minister.

As he recalled, in a previous agreement of the European Council, it’s stated that the countries that do not declare their readiness to achieve the goal of climate neutrality will only have access to 50 percent of the EU’s “Just Transformation Fund”.

Izabela Zygmunt from the Polish Green Network pointed out that in order to get on a path fully consistent with the objectives of the Paris Agreement, it will be necessary to raise the bar even higher in the coming years, and - in her opinion - the EU will do it.

"For Poland, this is a sign that the time for excusing yourself by arguing that exceptions have to be made for countries which have “a particular starting point” in energy transformation has passed and it's time to seriously start talking about the point of entry and the way to do it” - she states.

Ms Zygmunt argues that Poland has a chance to receive PLN 700 billion from the next 7-year EU budget and the reconstruction fund, which must be used for a truly bold and comprehensive zero emission transformation of the energy system