Poland claims "success" as EU agrees to ratify Paris climate deal

Poland claims
Poland insists it will continue expanding its fleet of coal-fired power plants
By bne IntelliNews October 2, 2016

Poland claimed on September 30 that it has successfully secured the interests of its economy as a special meeting of EU environment ministers agreed the bloc will ratify the Paris climate deal. However, Warsaw - which had threatened to block the move - was extremely vague about the concessions it has won.

The EU needed quick consent to ratify the deal, agreed last year in Paris, before a UN climate summit next month. The longtime leader in climate policy, the EU has been under pressure to head to Morocco with a ratification agreement, which would effectively push the deal above the threshold needed to enter into force.

Evidently eyeing that pressure, Poland said it would not agree to ratification unless its "economic interests" were accounted for. Coal provides over 80% of Polish power.

The lack of details released by Poland in its "victory" declaration has fuelled speculation that the threats were little more than posturing for the domestic political audience. Environment Minister Jan Szyszko was extremely vague about the actual concessions won.

"This is a success. Polish interests will be secured,” Szyszko proclaimed. However, he could only state that Poland has achieved “a gentleman's agreement," before noting that “undoubtedly there is still a lot of work ahead.”

Warsaw had claimed it would only agree on the unrealistic condition that the EU help it fund new coal-fired power plants. Poland has pledged to prop up its struggling coal industry, while it is in a hurry to build new generation capacity as the risk of blackouts rises.

“Poland is a country rich in energy sources, and its energy security - based on its own resources, that is, hard coal and lignite - is the foundation of Poland’s economy and sustainable development,” Szyszko wrote in a letter circulated in Brussels ahead of the September 30 meeting.