EU Leaders Set for Fight Over Climate as Poland Seeks More Cash

The European Union’s shift to a stricter climate goal for the next decade requires more financial support for regions dependent on fossil fuels, Poland said.

Poland’s stance underscores the challenge in advancing talks during an economic crisis on a green overhaul that affects every area from transport to farming. EU leaders are set to discuss next week a deepening of the 2030 emissions-reduction target to at least 55% from 1990 levels. The current goal is a cut of 40%.

For coal-dependent Poland, it’s not only the size of EU financing for the green shift that’s inadequate. It also wants more data on how the stricter target will affect the economies of individual member states, a demand that risks delaying a final decision currently foreseen in December after a debate this month. EU leaders vote by unanimity.

“The October summit may be very important in terms of principles even though I don’t expect it to dot the I’s and cross the T’s,” Poland’s Climate Minister Michal Kurtyka said by phone on Friday. “Let’s ensure we reduce question marks to the minimum so that we understand where we’re headed.”

Under the tougher climate target for 2030, European automakers would need to adopt stricter pollution standards, with an additional 350 billion euros ($414 billion) per year required for investment in production and infrastructure. Farming will need to become greener and companies in the EU’s carbon market would have to cut emissions faster.

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To become binding, a revised goal needs agreement between EU governments and the European Parliament after getting political endorsement from the bloc’s leaders. While a majority of member states backs the 55% target proposed by the Commission, some countries are in favor of an even deeper goal. The EU Parliament wants it to be increased to 60%.

Poland argues that to increase its ambition, Europe must ensure a comprehensive green transition financing framework. It should be funded by revenue from the bloc’s Emissions Trading System, its economic recovery program, the next EU budget and a levy on imports of emissions-intensive products. The Just Transition Fund, which will support the clean shift in the most affected regions, should be boosted from the currently planned 17.5 billion euros, Kurtyka said.

Poland is the only EU country that declined to commit to reaching climate neutrality by 2050 at a national level. At a summit last December, it backed an EU-wide goal to reach net-zero emissions by the middle of the century, saying it needed more time for the transformation. Whether the government in Warsaw changes its stance remains an open question.

“Poland will contribute to the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal but as we agreed in a previous summit — we have a different starting point and a longer road to take,” Kurtyka said. “For a country like Poland it takes more effort and requires more support. Otherwise the poorest will have to foot the bill.”

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