Published: Fri, December 13, 2019

Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland

Leaders agree 2050 climate neutrality - without Poland

"A different starting point for Poland and most other countries should be taken into account when it comes to reducing Carbon dioxide emissions", said the Polish prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described it as Europe's "man on the Moon" moment.

Earlier in the day Poland floated the idea of setting the date at 2070.

"This rule that must also be included in the legislative process, the rule that Poland would be reaching climate neutrality at its own pace", he said.

Poland relies on coal for nearly 80 per cent of its electricity.

On the "first of February, we go to work", she said.

"We can not allow Brussels bureaucrats to have poor people and poor countries to pay the costs of the fight against climate change", Hungary's PM Victor Orban said ahead of the discussions as quoted by Reuters, summing up the misgivings that most new EU members have about the union's climate change plan. "We need to get clear financial guarantees and the talks will centre on the details of those guarantees", the prime minister added.


"We can not allow Brussels bureaucrats to have poor people and poor countries to pay the costs of the fight against climate change", Orban said.

Poland failed to commit to the deal but couldn't stop the summit meeting from endorsing "the objective of achieving a climate-neutral European Union by 2050", as the conclusions read.

Indeed, the Czech Republic's insistence that it should get financial aid from the European Union to build nuclear plants in order to reduce its dependence on coal ran into opposition from more affluent member states including Germany, Austria, and Luxembourg.

But they left Poland out of the commitment, for now, agreeing to return to the issue next June, and also left the door open for the Czech Republic to include nuclear in its future energy mix.

"It was a long and hard struggle", Austrian Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein said. "For Austria, nuclear energy is not a safe and sustainable source of energy". Hungary would like to see Brussels "once and for all" put aside all concerns regarding nuclear energy and stop criticising countries like Hungary that produce nuclear energy because there can be no carbon-free economy in Europe without nuclear energy, Orbán said.

Discussions focused on funds for eastern European states to transition away from fossil fuels, while keeping nuclear power in the mix, but the deadline is a bit more flexible for one country.

The Czech Republic generates about half of its electricity from coal and wants to phase most of it out over the next 20 years, replacing part of it with new nuclear power plants.

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