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As European leaders meet today to discuss Europe’s next energy and climate framework, Poland is again poised to delay or block efforts to agree a 2030 climate target. But new research conducted by the NGO Sandbag finds that Poland has consistently gained preferential access to greenhouse gas emissions rights under preceding climate targets, and this has allowed Poland to keep growing its emissions while profiting from the sale of spare carbon allowances.

The research shows that Poland’s carbon budgets over the eight years of 2013-2020 are, on average, 3% higher than its estimated emissions in 2012. This follows from a five year Kyoto budget (2008-2012) in which Poland was allowed it to grow its emissions by 44% relative to 2002 when it ratified the agreement. At the end of 2012 this has left Poland holding 679 million spare carbon allowances: equivalent to almost double its annual emissions.

Polish emissions vs carbon budgets

While both Europe and the international community have adopted damage limitation measures to prevent the excess allowances awarded to countries like Poland from weakening mitigation incentives and flooding other nations, Poland has managed to sell off 138 million of these spare Kyoto allowances for hundreds of millions of Euros before these barriers were put in place, and has further managed to circumvent them by turning allowances into offset credits, or banking them forward under the EU emissions trading scheme.

The report warns that if Poland fails to support a suitably ambitious target soon other Member States might simply go around it. The Environment Council could choose to vote through legislation implementing a 40% domestic target by qualified majority. They might also choose to exact more effort from Poland when negotiationg how commitments are shared under the new climate and energy framework.

Damien Morris, Sandbag’s Head of Policy, said: “Five years ago, EU leaders agreed to cut Europe’s emissions by 80-95% by 2050 as a minimum reflection of our international climate responsibilities. Since then Poland has routinely blocked efforts to set interim targets which would allow us to cost-effectively reach that goal. With the deadline fast approaching to reach a new international climate agreement, it is time for Poland to stop dithering, and support a 2030 target. A unilateral EU pledge to cut domestic emissions by 40% would be a strong starting offer from which to negotiate an ambitious new global deal.”