Poland Says EU 2030 Carbon Goal Compromise Viable in October

Apr 29, 2014 9:16 am ET

(Updates with Korolec’s comments in ninth paragraph.)

April 29 (Bloomberg) -- The European Union can set its 2030 carbon goals as soon as October if the region’s governments agree to ease the cost for poorer countries to implement the policies, according to Poland’s climate negotiator.

The 28-nation bloc needs a “coherent” environment strategy for the next decade while ensuring its industry stays competitive worldwide, Marcin Korolec said in an interview. Poland in the past three years has twice vetoed EU ministerial statements on emissions goals that could lead to tighter greenhouse-gas reduction policies. A climate target decision by EU leaders requires unanimity.

EU heads of state agreed in March that the bloc should make a political decision about its future policy framework at a summit in October to ensure certainty for investors before the current emission-reduction goal of 20 percent from 1990 levels expires at the end of this decade. Poland has argued that the EU could take more time to define new targets.

“A compromise solution is possible even this autumn,” Korolec said in Warsaw on April 24. “We had certain exceptional provisions agreed under the existing legislation and it seems obvious that such special conditions are necessary to see a consensus already in October.”

The level of climate ambition in future policies has divided governments and industry in the region, with countries including the U.K. and France calling on EU to step up the pace of emission reductions in the next decade. Poland, which relies on coal for about 90 percent of its power, has led a coalition of mostly east European nations urging more cautious policies.

Burden Sharing

The European Commission proposes deepening the target to 40 percent for the 10 years through 2030. The EU’s regulatory arm has so far failed to provide a detailed analysis on how that target would impact individual member states, Korolec said.

Should the bloc continue the pace of reductions under existing laws, it would cut emissions by around 32 percent by 2030, the commission has said. A move to 40 percent is the most cost-efficient way to reach the objective of reducing pollution 80 percent by 2050, according to the commission.

“We don’t know how it will work in countries with lower national income, which have no guarantee of fair burden- sharing,” Korolec said. “The commission doesn’t show how this could be a truly European project. So we want to check the level of ambition; we want to see the cards.”

Conditional Target

Any target adopted by EU leaders must be conditional on the outcome of international climate negotiations to fight global warming, Korolec said. Climate envoys worldwide aim to broker a deal to reduce fossil fuel emissions by 2015.

One of the biggest challenges for EU governments will be to find tools to cut greenhouse gases in industries outside the bloc’s emissions trading system, according to the Polish climate negotiator. The ETS imposes gradually decreasing pollution caps on more than 13,000 installations owned by utilities and manufacturers from steelmaker ThyssenKrupp AG to power company EON SE. Sectors not covered by the cap-and-trade program include transportation and agriculture.

“In non-ETS sectors, governments have to commit to a concrete number and in some sectors the room for maneuver is pretty limited; we don’t have any carbon capture and storage system for emissions from cows for example,” Korolec said. “This may be a very tough decision.”