European leaders will struggle to broker a stronger climate package before December, experts say, as Warsaw prepares to play hard for funding.
Poland was one of four member states to block a deal on net zero emissions at the last meeting of national leaders in June. Finland has made strengthening climate ambition top priority for its 6-month presidency of the European Council, with the next moment to broker a settlement in October.
But the timing of Polish elections in late autumn and simultaneous wrangling over the EU budget mean Warsaw is unlikely to arrive ready to compromise.
Lidia Wojtal, a former Polish negotiator, told Climate Home News that Poland “will not agree to carbon neutrality by October”.
“I don’t see how Poland will agree to lose this very strong negotiating position before the budget is agreed,” she said, adding that a deal was more likely to be found at the following council meeting in December or early 2020.
The European Parliament confirmed Ursula von der Leyen as the first women president of the European Commission in a nail-biting vote on Tuesday (16 July) that put climate change centre stage. EURACTIV’s media partner Climate Home News reports.
Negotiations over the 2021-27 EU budget are expected to be tough. Under initial proposals, Poland faces a 23% cut to “cohesion” funds, a pot for regenerating economically depressed regions. It is the biggest loser in a redistribution of tight funds from east to south.
Konrad Szymański, Poland’s minister of European affairs, told an EU meeting on Thursday his country “cannot accept disproportionate [budget] cuts for less developed regions and member states whilst wealthier ones are spared”.
Meanwhile, the coal-dependent country is wary of the impact of tougher climate targets on its mining communities and wider economy. The opposition Civic Coalition has said it would phase out coal by 2040, but the ruling Law and Justice party still sees the fuel supplying 60% of electricity in 2030.