Exclusive: Poland will only agree EU approval of Paris climate deal on its terms - minister

September 26, 2016 5:11 PM EDT

The sun shines through trees in a protected area of Bialowieza forest, the last primeval forest in Europe, near Bialowieza village, Poland, May 30, 2016. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo


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By Alissa de Carbonnel

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Poland will only sign off on accelerated EU approval of the Paris climate deal on its own terms, its environment minister said in a letter to EU counterparts, casting doubt on a push by the bloc for adoption ahead of U.N. climate talks in November.

In the letter dated Monday and seen by Reuters, Jan Szyszko says Poland, whose economy is heavily dependent on coal, would consent to fast-tracked ratification "only on terms that take into account the specificity of the Polish economy".

EU environment ministers meet on Friday for an extraordinary meeting to seek consensus on a proposal to fast-track the bloc's ratification of the deal to curb global warming without waiting for each member state to first do so individually.

But Poland's demands could derail the efforts to overcome an embarrassing delay in the bloc's own ratification of the pact that Europe has long championed.

The stakes are high because if the EU, the world's third-largest emitter, is able to agree before Oct. 7, it could win the symbolic prize of triggering the accord's formal adoption.

The Paris deal on slashing greenhouse gas emissions takes effect once at least 55 nations making up at least 55 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions ratify it.

EU officials see their leadership in helping to secure the backing of nearly 200 countries for the global pact as a rare bright spot for a bloc now struggling with Britain's decision to leave the Union and sharp divisions over migration.

They want to fast-track ratification of the deal to keep temperature increases to "well below" 2 degrees Celsius and avoid a delay that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker this month described as "ridiculous" and damaging to the bloc's credibility.

EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic told Reuters earlier on Monday that Poland was on board with the plans.

"The European Commission is in intensive talks with all member states so that they are able to reach a political consensus at the extraordinary meeting of environment ministers to ratify the Paris treaty jointly as the EU," he said.

"At a recent Bratislava summit, all leaders including Poland's PM agreed to ratify it as soon as possible ... I am convinced that the Slovak presidency will be successful at finalizing negotiations on ratification."

But when EU regulators unveiled plans in July for spreading the burden of the bloc's climate goal of at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 among member states, Poland objected to its target of a reduction in discharges by 7 percent.

"Poland shall consent to ratify the Paris Agreement by the EU, provided that our reduction achievements made so far under the Kyoto Protocol and the specificity of our national energy mix are considered," Szyszko said in Monday's letter.

"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."

Last October, Poland's president unexpectedly vetoed 2012's Doha amendment which extends the protocol until 2020, arguing that the country needed more time to analyze its impact on the economy.

(Reporting by Alissa De Carbonnel, additional reporting by Tatiana Jancarikova in Bratislava; Editing by Catherine Evans)



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