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Poland, Other Countries To Veto ETS Reforms, Says Minister

Poland will stand firm against reform of the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), the country’s environment minister has said, and he is confident other countries will back Poland’s position in the negotiations.

In response to low carbon prices, the European Commission has launched a consultation on holding back a number of allowances in the early years of Phase III (2013-20) of the ETS and has also proposed an alteration to the Emissions Trading Directive to make this ‘backloading’ law – ideas that Poland fundamentally opposes.

The alteration to the directive needs a qualified majority of member states and European parliamentarians to agree. Observers say that in such instances of disagreement, a compromise would be sought, and some have speculated that Poland could shift its position to win concessions in other areas.

“I don’t see such a perspective,” Polish environment minister Marcin Korolec toldEnvironmental Finance.

Marcin Korolec

Polish environment minister Marcin Korolec: won’t compromise on ETS

He did not elaborate on whether Poland could gain enough support from other member states to block a law change, but said he is “confident there are other countries sharing our point of view”.

“It’s quite strange to have some initiative coming from the Commission now changing this existing piece of legislation,” he said. “I think it is unacceptable because it’s changing the rules during the game by a referee.”

“I remember negotiations in 2008 [on the EU’s Energy and Climate Package] when we were told we’re coming from a post-communist country and don’t understand markets and that a market mechanism is the best we can have. And today [the Commission] is proposing something which is completely questioning the market mechanism.”

“We risk quite long negotiations,” he added.

EU should rein in climate policies

Korolec also said that Europe should not move ahead of the rest of the world in its effort to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and should adhere to international climate policy. “Europe will not save the world alone, so it’s contra productive on a global scale” to have “highest possible climate interest” just in Europe before a new global deal is reached, he said.

Poland relies on coal for 93% of its electricity production, making it a huge task to cut carbon dioxide emissions rapidly, but Korolec is confident that Poland will meet its EU targets.

Collectively, the EU has agreed by 2020 to reduce GHG emissions to 20% below 1990 levels, for 20% energy to come from renewable sources, and a 20% reduction in energy use compared to projected levels.

“We have our target under the Energy and Climate Package and I’m sure we will deliver,” he said.

He said the country’s first objective in terms of energy and climate policy is energy efficiency. “We have a quite developed programme for increasing energy efficiency of buildings.”

Korolec also highlighted that Poland’s coal power stations were given 400 million tonnes worth of free allowances to be used in Phase III of the ETS on the condition that the value of the allowances must be mirrored by a corresponding amount of investment in modernising electricity generation.

But he did not see carbon allowance auction revenues in Phase III playing a big role in diversifying Poland’s energy mix. “It suggests taking away some money from business that could be turned into investments and putting them into budget, and then redistributing it from the budget back to businesses, which creates little added value, if any,” he said.

In terms of new policies, Poland is currently not planning to introduce any legislation to reduce emissions. “We used to live in a system when we had some obligatory rules … we have some bad experience with those kinds of instruments.”