Poland urging neighbours to block EU emission goal

Poland is successfully lobbying its neighbours in eastern European states as it seeks to block efforts by the EU regional group to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Poles argue that the planned cuts will hurt economic growth and fuel inflation.

The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, has drafted a proposal to slash carbon dioxide output by 2050 to levels so low that Polish officials say they would virtually rule out the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity.

Bloomberg reports that the Poles vetoed the plan at a meeting of EU environment ministers last week, and Polish officials say they are now starting to gain the support of its neighbors including the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Romania in a bid to block the initiative permanently.

Coal-rich Poland is the largest of the ex-Soviet bloc countries to join the EU, in 2004, and it has long aimed to represent the EU's eastern flank on vital regional issues. The country generates more than 90 per cent of its electricity from coal.

"The plan won't help the climate, while the European economy, which is barely on its feet, will have additional problems," Marcin Korolec, Poland's environment minister, said Monday. "We need to look for solutions we'll actually be able to implement."

The commission will now attempt to draft a compromise solution and put it forward for another vote.

"Poland's 'no' to the European Commission's low-carbon road map is unfortunate, but it will not stop Europe from moving on with its transition to a low-carbon economy," said Connie Hedegaard, the EU's commissioner for climate action.

She said the commission's work was supported by all EU members but Poland, and it wouldn't be right "if the most reluctant one dictates the pace to the rest."

But Poland is determined to affect change of opinion with Minister Korolec insistent saying, "The commission's goals are too ambitious."

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