Limping to Paris
What Poland’s Elections Mean for the Global Climate Treaty

Ahead of a trip to Paris, Polish President Andrzej Duda vetoed ratification of a key climate change law which extends the Kyoto protocol on CO2 emissions through 2020. Fresh on the heels of a resounding victory by his Law and Justice party in the general elections, Duda hoped to send a strong signal ahead of the upcoming climate talks in Paris that Poland would not be a pushover. A statement from his office said that “binding Poland to an international agreement affecting the economy and with associated social costs should be preceded by a detailed analysis of the legal and economic impact … these effects have not been sufficiently clarified”. The EUObserver reports:

[Former prime minister and Duda spokesman Jaroslaw Kaczynski] said a Paris climate summit deal “will only make sense … if it doesn’t bring harmful effects to the Polish and European economies, for instance, by undermining competitiveness or reducing energy security”. […]

[F]or Konrad Szymanski, a Law and Justice MEP who is tipped to be Szydlo’s EU affairs minister, climate change will be the biggest irritant in future Polish-EU relations.

“I thought that migration is the most difficult issue in Europe, but now it looks like it’s going to be climate policies,” he told the Bloomberg news agency in an interview last Friday.

Poland’s affinity for coal is well known in Europe—the industry employs 100,000 people and supplies up to 85% of the country’s energy. And the Law and Justice party’s hardline stance on climate deals constricting Polish growth is, itself, already known. Back in August one party member put it this way: “Any binding stance that would be accepted at the conference in Paris will be harmful to Poland, so a failure of the summit is in Poland’s interest.”

Negotiators in Paris have their work cut out for them as they try and broker a compromise between the developed and developing worlds. Poland is a perfect example of the obstacles delegates are going to have to wrangle with, and with the rhetoric we’re already seeing from the country’s new government, it seems certain that Warsaw will be keen on throwing a wrench in to the proceedings.

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