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Poland could call on EU treaty to fight for free emissions allowances

20 Sep 2011 17:15:01 | edcm

Poland will fight for the right to get up to 20m free carbon allowances per year in phase III of the EU emissions trading system and could call on an energy sovereignty clause in the Lisbon treaty to back up its bid, deputy prime minister Waldemar Pawlak said on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of an informal EU energy summit, Pawlak said that Poland would submit an energy modernisation programme to the European Commission by the end of September. He estimated that projects in the plan, which will all seek free emissions allowances under a derogation to the EU's emissions trading directive, would reduce Polish CO2 emissions by 20m tonnes per year.

Pawlak's message was that Poland would not be prepared to change its economic and energy policy to bring it in line with tougher EU-wide emission reduction targets. Poland has already blocked several moves either to tighten the EU-wide emission reduction target under a new climate change treaty or to reduce supply of emissions allowances in phase III, despite widespread support among other member states (see EDCM 20 July 2011).

"We want to protect the environment, but not at the expense of economic competitiveness and energy independence," Pawlak said. "Countries whose energy balance is based on coal need an individual development plan."

Poland is largely dependent on coal to generate electricity.

Poland could now use an article on energy sovereignty in the key Lisbon Treaty to back its case. This article states that all EU states are free to develop their own energy mix. "Most EU provisions on limiting greenhouse gas emissions could undermine [that] guarantee," Pawlak said. "During the informal meeting of the energy council we are considering how to prevent such a situation."

Poland currently holds the presidency of the EU. This gives it power over the agenda, allowing it to delay decisions on climate change. It does not give the country any additional decision-making powers beyond its usual votes in the Council of the European Union, however. To trigger any change in EU policy, Poland would still need to drum up support among several other member states. IS

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