Coal-dependent Poland could challenge European 2030 carbon-cutting targets, warns UK energy secretary
By Megan Darby
Poland is “the real challenge” to a European agreement on carbon cutting targets for 2030, the UK energy secretary has warned.
Brussels is aiming to agree a 2030 climate and energy package by October, that can contribute to global negotiations in Lima scheduled for December. Draft proposals published by the European Commission in January included a 40% carbon reduction target.
Meanwhile, Europe is also working on policy to boost energy security, after tensions in the Ukraine sparked concern over the bloc’s reliance on Russian fossil fuel imports.
Ed Davey, UK energy and climate change secretary, told a parliamentary committee there is “huge overlap” between security of supply and climate change policies. “Energy efficiency is the most important policy for both. Having home grown energy, whether nuclear or renewables, is one of the best ways of having energy security.”
Poland is an exception, he said, due to its dependence on polluting coal for energy. “From a Polish perspective, coal gives them energy security. That is why you have got to put yourself in the shoes of the Polish government and Polish industry.”
Davey has been engaging “extremely actively” with Poland and the other central European countries that form the Visegrad Group: Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
These countries teamed up with Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania in May to demand compensation for the “excessive burden” of climate targets imposed by Europe.
In the 2020 framework Europe is currently working towards, some member states were given a more demanding share of the overall target than others. Davey said that approach could be extended. Backing Poland to develop carbon capture and storage could also help, he suggested.
Subject to Poland coming round, Europe should “at least” be able to agree on a 40% emissions cut, Davey told the House of Lords. “I would regard 40% as a good outcome but I would not leave it there.”
Davey said Europe needs to be more ambitious to limit global temperature rises to 2C. “We were never going to get there in one go, that is realpolitik, but in the context of a global deal we could go to 50%.”
Recent developments in China and the USA are “really heartening”, Davey said. He will also be discussing the matter with India, which has just elected new prime minister Narendra Modi. “If prime minister Modi is prepared to move India into a deal, that would be very helpful.”