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Poland Threatens Legal Action Against EU’s Climate Plans


BRUSSELS, Feb 5 (Reuters) – Poland is threatening to challenge a draft European Union climate law in court, EU documents seen by Reuters show, in its latest move to slow an EU campaign against global warming that Warsaw sees as a menace to its coal-powered energy industry.

In what Polish diplomats describe as leverage for talks now under way on how to spread the burden of EU climate goals among member states, Warsaw is opposing the legal basis for the rules – a battle it could take to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

It puts Poland at odds with the rest of the 28-nation bloc, deepening fears in Brussels for the EU’s ability to take the lead if U.S. President Donald Trump rows back, as he has warned, from global diplomacy to tackle climate change.

The EU’s climate talks aim to strike a burden-sharing deal to uphold its pledge made as part of the global climate change deal reached in 2015 in Paris to slash greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Climate rules touch a raw nerve in Poland, however: Over 80 percent of its energy comes from high-polluting, coal-fired plants and the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, elected in 2015, campaigned on a pledge to defend the coal industry.

Warsaw’s opposition to EU climate goals is driven by a wider anger on the part of the eurosceptic government at EU complaints that its policies are eroding Polish democracy, including steps to limit the independence of the judiciary and media.

“But to challenge the legal basis (of EU climate policy) is extreme even for Poland,” one EU official told Reuters.

An EU document seen by Reuters, in which Poland outlines its position for other member states, takes issue with the “legal basis and global context” of the climate change draft.

Warsaw proposes to strike from the title and preamble to the draft any mention that it aims to fulfil the EU commitment to the Paris Agreement, saying the wording is “too far-reaching” and raises doubt about the voluntary nature of the global pact.

It also cites an article in EU treaties that says rules on a nation’s “choice between different energy sources” can only be adopted with the unanimous consent of the bloc’s 28 nations, which would bypass the EU’s environmentally-minded parliament.

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