Monday October 27th 2014
Climate commissioner hails ‘strong signal’ ahead of global Paris summit but key aspects of deal left vague or voluntary.
Poland, heavily dependent on coal-fired energy production, threatened to block the deal unless the costs to its economy and industry were discounted by €15bn-€20bn (£12bn-£16bn) between 2020 and 2030, under a complicated system of concessions from the EU’s carbon trading system.
Concessions granted to Poland will allow it to continue reaping hundreds of millions of euros in free allowances to modernise coal-fired power plants. Of eight EU nations eligible for the free allocations, Poland claimed 60% of the total up until 2019.
A poll by TNS and YouGov for the online activist group Avaaz late last week found that 56% of Poles thought that EU financial support for energy should back clean energy rather than fossil fuels.
“It’s scandalous,” said Julia Michalak, a spokeswoman for Climate Action Network Europe. “A continuation of free emission permits for Poland’s coal-reliant energy system would be a grave mistake. Leaders who came to Brussels to agree new historic climate goals, are actually discussing whether to hand out money to Europe’s dirtiest power plants.”
Intense bilateral discussions between Cameron, the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and other EU leaders over the last week tried to find ways of placating the Poles, who kept open their option of vetoing the summit outcome until the end.
The anticipated 40% greenhouse gas cut by 2030 would be measured against benchmark 1990 levels. That figure is to be binding on the EU and the minimum level achieved, with Germany and Britain happy to agree a higher figure.
Tony Robson, the CEO of Knauf Insulation – a leading insulation firm that had threatened to divest from Europe unless firm energy saving targets were announced – said that the 27% figure for energy efficiency improvement was “no better than business as usual” in an open letter to EU leaders.
A 27% target “sends a strong signal to the energy efficiency industry to ‘leave Europe and make your investments elsewhere’”, he wrote.