EU divided over emissions targets

Europe’s drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could be in jeopardy after objections by some of its Member States that rely on coal-fired power.

A proposed EU-wide agreement on binding emissions targets, scheduled to be finalized in October, aims to cut carbon emissions by 40 per cent by 2030, but some less-rich Member States that get the majority of their power from coal-fired plants say implementing the targets could prove too costly for them. 

Poland, which generates 80 per cent of its power from coal, is a principal dissenter. Analysts agree that Poland’s concerns are justified, as the nation would need to spend big and spend soon to meet the proposed target.

Reaching agreement on the 2030 framework is predicted to be difficult. Maciej Bukowski, president of the Warsaw Institute of Economic Studies, said in a Bloomberg interview that he believes there is a 50 per cent chance that the October deadline, which requires unanimous agreement among Member States, will not be met. Failure to establish a European emissions target this year could also jeopardize a planned global climate agreement due to be signed at the UN climate change summit in Paris in late 2015.

Meanwhile, Germany and the UK are expected to push for a more ambitious 2030 emissions reduction strategy, which Bukowski said could put them “on a collision course” with Poland.

Germany reportedly favours a “two-speed” policy framework which would require the countries currently in the lead to meet the target, but would leave room for less prosperous countries to catch up later. Nevertheless, Poland is expected to stall the process.

An initial meeting on the 2030 framework will take place later this month. Draft conclusions from this meeting, reported by European policy news site EurActiv, said “all efforts will be mobilized” to ensure that October’s deadline is met.  


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