Poland Pushes ‘Clean Coal’ At Next UN Climate Summit
Poland has been starkly criticised for organising an ‘International Coal and Climate Summit’ to run parallel with the COP19 UN climate change conference it is hosting in Warsaw this November.
A Warsaw Communiqué issued jointly by Poland’s Ministry of the Economy and the World Coal Association (WCA) last week proposed a ‘clean coal’ strategy to fight climate change, relying on what it calls ‘high efficiency, low-emissions coal combustion technologies’.
The International Coal and Climate Summit that follows is nominally being hosted by the WCA but will take place at the Economy Ministry, which is endorsing the meeting with its logo. It will also be addressed by Poland’s deputy prime minister and several government officials.
“The Polish government is transforming something of international importance into a lobby opportunity for coal, the very energy which destroys climate the most,” Claude Turmes, the MEP and vice-chair of the European Parliament Green group told EurActiv.
“It is outrageous,” he went on. “Poland is abusing its position in a vast cynical diplomatic exercise to derail the international climate negotiations and, done by a European member state, I think it is really an attempt to destroy solidarity inside the EU.”
He called on EU governments and the European Commission not to accept Poland’s handling of the UNFCCC summit, in a nod to growing irritation at Warsaw.
According to an unofficial briefing ‘non-paper’ for the last informal meeting of EU energy ministers, which EurActiv has seen, Poland is opposing proposed 2030 climate and energy targets for the European Union, running counter to what a majority of countries have been calling for.
Adding insult to injury for environmentalists, the COP summit will also be sponsoredby firms whose green credentials have been questioned, such as the steel giant Arcelor Mittal, the German car company BMW, and Poland’s International Paper.
“It is probably a statement by the Poles of thumbing their noses to responsible climate policy and to EU policy as well,” Jason Anderson, WWF’s head of European climate and Energy told EurActiv.
Many businesses were working to reduce their carbon emissions, he said. “It just so happens that they’ve ticked a lot of mainstream and often high-emitting companies that are not the most progressive in Europe.”
Industries ‘here to stay’
But the Polish environment minister, Marcin Korolec told EurActiv that he found environmental complaints about the coal and climate summit “very strange, if not worrying”.
“To people questioning involvement of energy intensive industries at COP I have little understanding,” he said. “Where is the most potential to reduce greenhouse gases? And these industries are here to stay. We want windmills and they are made of steel.”
Business had to have a seat at the climate table, he stressed: “During [the] Polish COP Presidency there is no place for confrontation, isolation and selection. We worked hard to get to democracy and [the] market system and want to use this experience during COP.”