This week’s meeting of European environment ministers in Luxembourg saw Poland block the European Commission’s proposed 2050 low-carbon road map. Poland’s environment minister said he expected greater solidarity within Europe and an understanding of the situation of specific member states.
Poland generates over 90% of its electricity from coal and the industry plays an important role in its economic development. A recent report by the World Bank showed that the current EU climate policy would reduce the country’s GDP by 2% points each year for the next 10 years and could bring a loss of employment of up to 7.4% between 2015 and 2030.
Within the EU, Poland has consistently argued for priority to be placed on economic growth and industrial development. As one of the fastest growing economies in the EU and the only country to have maintained its economic growth throughout the economic crisis, Poland is the EU’s version of China.
The rejection of the 2050 low-carbon roadmap shows that the European Commission’s (EC) climate policy fails to bridge the integrated priorities of economic development and climate action. The rejected roadmap raises the question of the EU’s capacity to lead on climate change. If the EC fails to propose an emissions reduction roadmap that would bring on board a growing economy with a large industrial sector within its political boundaries, how does it expect to inspire large emerging economies to follow its example in the global fight against climate change?
Instead of satisfying itself with setting targets, the European Commission should come up with a plan on how to minimise the costs of mitigating climate change. Improving the efficiency of coal-fired power plants, ensuring that all new power plants are as efficient as possible, investing in CCS and other innovative low-carbon technologies – these should be the new areas of focus for policy makers who are serious about climate change.