We use cookies to make sure our website better meets your expectations.
You can adjust your web browser's settings to stop accepting cookies. For further information, read our cookie policy.
IN Warsaw
Exchange Rates
Warsaw Stock Exchange - Indices
The Warsaw Voice » Politics » November 19, 2008
You have to be logged in to use the ReadSpeaker utility and listen to a text. It's free-of-charge. Just log in to the site or register if you are not registered user yet.
Poland and the Climate-Energy Package
November 19, 2008 By W.¯.    
Article's tools:

A special EU summit in Brussels next month will be a battleground over the contents of a legislative package to fight climate change. Since the document will affect the economies of EU member states for many years to come, Poland has a vital interest in the contents and may even exercise its right to veto the package.

"We want an energy-climate package that will not jeopardize our economies," Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Nov. 5 in Warsaw after a meeting of the presidents of Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The controversial legislation, prepared by the European Commission, would require the EU to cut emissions of carbon dioxide by 20 percent before 2020. All 27 EU member states and the European Parliament are expected to reach an agreement on the package by the end of this year. "We hope we can come up with a joint stance to lobby for a wise climate package at the EU summit in December," Tusk said.

In October, heads of EU countries and their governments agreed that a political compromise on the energy-climate package would first have to be made at a summit meeting of EU leaders. With that agreement, Poland secured for itself the right to veto the proposed package, because decisions at EU summits have to be made unanimously. The Polish economy depends on coal-based technologies for some 95 percent of its energy, and the government contends that the Commission's ambitious plans to cut CO2 emissions would result in soaring electricity prices.

Under the Commission proposal, as of 2013 all rights to CO2 emissions in the energy sector will have to be sold at special auctions. According to a recent report from Société Générale bank, prices of CO2 emission rights will reach 80 euros per ton in 2013, or four times the current price. The bank's calculations differ considerably from estimates by the Commission, which believes that fears of impending sharp price increases are exaggerated. Commission spokesperson Barbara Helfferich says Brussels estimates prices of the mandatory emission permits will only rise a little above 30 euros.

The Polish government challenges the Commission data which it regards as unreliable. According to Miko³aj Dowgielewicz, head of the Office of the Committee for European Integration, several reports have shown that if passed in its present shape, the new legislation will have a disastrous effect on electricity prices. Thus the Polish government is seeking to make some of the regulations less restrictive.

"We do not want to obstruct the energy-climate package, but to help design it responsibly," Tusk said, adding that the new EU member states have joined forces in an attempt to require the EU to prevent uncontrollable price fluctuations in CO2 emission rights before the package is adopted. The new member states also want the EU to take into consideration the specific economic conditions of individual countries, especially those economies, such as Poland's, that heavily rely on coal. "We shall not pursue the spurious hope that a single country, especially in our group of countries which are poorer than the richest member states, might be able to negotiate a package that could satisfy us all," Tusk said.

According to the Polish prime minister, officials from the Visegrad Group and the Baltic states who met in Warsaw consider it very important for the EU to formally restrict any future fluctuations in prices of CO2 emission rights. Tusk pointed out that in the past few months, the whole world has witnessed speculative attacks on currencies, which has been a painful experience. "Imagine a situation where prices of CO2 emission rights are overly free to vary," Tusk said in Warsaw. "A system like that would be an easy target for a speculative attack, resulting in absolutely unjustified price increases."

Tusk said the new EU member states were seeking maximum allowances for countries that would have to invest the most in curbing CO2 emissions. "This way, individual branches of the power industry could avoid collapse," he said. The premier added that the countries represented at the Warsaw meeting had made a "gigantic effort" in the 1990s and reduced their CO2 emissions to a much greater extent than even the largest European countries. "All of us only expect one thing, and that is a fair assessment of the differences at this starting point; a fair assessment of the effort, the sweat and tears which our countries have spent to truly curb CO2 emissions, so that Poland, Lithuania and Hungary are not treated the same as Denmark, Sweden or France when the quest for clean technologies begins," said Tusk.

Foreign Minister Rados³aw Sikorski said that Poland wanted the climate package to succeed, but in a shape that the Polish economy could handle. "We will back a package which fulfills these goals," Sikorski said flatly. "A package which defies them will be vetoed." He added Poland would be "happy not to have to use a veto."

Jerzy Buzek, Poland's prime minister from 1997-2001 and now a member of the European Parliament, considers the gaining of the right to veto the energy-climate package one of the greatest successes in Poland's history of negotiations with the EU. "We found understanding for our argument that Poland was in a very special situation when it came to CO2 emissions and that special situation had to be respected," Buzek said. "Under the current proposals, as of 2013 the emission of every ton of CO2 will have to be paid for." Poland's proposal is that "those who have the best possible technologies in a given industry branch or in the energy sector should not to have to pay at all," said Buzek. Only industries with inferior, less efficient technologies that cause higher CO2 emissions would still have to pay. Buzek said this would result in much lower costs of CO2 emissions, because then one group of producers does not pay, and those who do pay will only cover the difference between their emissions and the lowest possible emission rate.

Although initially Poland found it hard to persuade its partners to back the idea, after many months it succeeded with the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Romania and others. It would be a tremendous success if the EU accepted the Polish proposal in December, Buzek said. And now that Poland has the support of other countries, its proposals are likely to be approved for enterprises such as cement mills, steel mills and chemical plants.
© The Warsaw Voice 2010-2018
E-mail Marketing Powered by SARE