Draft documents seen by Reuters have revealed that European ministers are divided over proposed promises to cut carbon emissions as part of the UN negotiations – with Poland at the forefront of the opposition.
As EU environment ministers get ready for their pre-summit meeting in October – to formulate their joint stance ahead of the Warsaw talks – draft reports show that “mitigation commitments” remain one of the major outstanding issues.
“Enhancing pre-2020 mitigation ambition will pave the way for an ambitious 2015 international agreement,” it says.
However, annotations to the document show that Poland continues to repeatedly block EU efforts to deepen carbon cuts. The country’s environment minister, Marcin Korolec has previously said the EU should not make extra promises before the agreement of a new global deal on climate – expected in Paris in 2015.
As the host of this year’s summit, Poland is coming under increasing pressure to show increased ambition on climate change.
Despite claims from Korolec that the conference will provide vital preparation for 2015, the Polish government has been starkly criticised for organizing an ‘International Coal and Climate Summit’ that will run in parallel with the COP19 summit.
A joint communiqué by Poland’s Ministry of the Economy and the World Coal Association, proposed a ‘clean coal’ strategy to fight climate change.
The government has also announced that firms in the business of fossil fuel extraction, steel manufacturing and automobile production will have an active partnership role – for the first time in 19 years – at this year’s climate talks.
The government is also facing criticism for pursuing plans to construct two new units at its Opole power plant.
By failing to assess the units for their ability to incorporate carbon capture and storage (CCS), Poland is acting in direct violation of EU regulation.
Earlier this year, the plants were labeled “illegal” by MEPs, who issued a set of questions to the Climate Commission on the issue in July.
Climate Commissioner, Connie Hedegaard responded last week, indicating further action could be taken if it turned out Poland was contravening the law – saying the Commission was “gathering information”.
The two power plants, each capable of generating 900MW of power, could emit 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 over the next 55 years.
An EU directive on CCS forces any new coal plant to be assessed for CCS readiness, and ensure that space be left vacant next to the plant for the technology to be installed in the future.