EU Should Scrap Energy Subsidies to Fight Warming, Poland Says

The European Union should scrap fossil fuel and renewable energy subsidies and set a target to cut oil imports to remain the leader in the fight against global warming, according to Poland’s environment minister.

Poland wants to keep energy prices at an affordable level, Minister Marcin Korolec said today at a conference in Warsaw attended by EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard titled “A World You Like With a Climate You Like.”

“We have our ideas of how to improve EU policies and thus climate,” Korolec said. “Those are simple actions that would help us have the climate you like on a budget you like.”

His comments highlight the difficulty the EU is facing to agree on its climate and energy policies for the next decade and fix its carbon market, where prices slumped to a record last month. Poland, the biggest economy among 12 countries that joined the bloc since 2004, opposes the EU proposal to intervene in the emissions trading system to stimulate investment in clean technologies, arguing the plan will increase energy prices at a time of economic crisis.

Stepping up climate ambitions can help the EU strengthen its economy, create new jobs, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels, according to Hedegaard. Poland, where companies use twice as much energy as their competitors elsewhere in Europe, can also further improve its energy efficiency, she said.

“We can have greener cities, we can have less air pollution, we can have transport that has less CO2 and is more efficient,” she said. “We think we can have both: the world you like and the climate you like.”

Binding Targets

The EU, which has a binding target to cut greenhouse gases by 20 percent in 2020 compared with 1990 levels, seeks to reduce emissions by at least 80 percent in 2050. The most cost- efficient way to reach the long-term goal would be to cut pollution by 40 percent in 2030, according to the European Commission.

The scrapping of energy subsidies and setting a target to cut oil imports would be a more effective tool to encourage green investment, reduce the bill for fossil fuels and improve the security of energy supply in the EU, according to the Polish government.

Poland, which has blocked a political statement by EU ministers that could pave a way to stricter emission-reduction targets in the region, will host a global climate summit in November. The country actively supports the negotiations toward a new deal to cut greenhouse gases worldwide as climate change intensifies, Korolec said.

“What we used to call a weather anomaly is becoming a norm,” he said. “Instead of four seasons we have two long seasons: hot and cold.”

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

Lead image: Poland flag via Shutterstock

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