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Poland is cautious about boosting climate ambitions

On the 18 June, environment and climate ministers held a meeting under the V4 format – including Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – to discuss the future of the European Green Deal, circular economy and post-COVID recovery, reads the statement of the Polish Ministry of Climate. The meeting of the V4 group was attended by representatives of Bulgaria and Romania as well.

Poland’s Minister of Climate Michał Kurtyka pointed out that, especially in face of the pandemic situation and the economic slowdown, a thorough analysis should be carried out regarding the potential impacts of increasing the EU’s climate goals by 2030.

“It would be irresponsible to focus on tightening European climate policy goals now that the means to achieve them and the social costs associated with them remain unpredictable,” highlighted Mr Kurtyka.

“Instead, we should focus on the resumption of economic activity and encourage the transition to a low-carbon economy. If we do it right, the effects may exceed our expectations,” he noted.

At the beginning of the pandemic crisis, Warsaw already voiced its concerns regarding the achievement of the EU’s climate goals stating that the economic fallout will make it even more difficult to deliver on previous commitments.

In the face of the virus, Poland is striving to stimulate the economy while also supporting green transformation. As Minister Kurtyka noted, approximately two billion euros will be allocated for the implementation of green investments covering a total of 26 programs, from electromobility to the modernization of heating systems.

Circular economy was also on the table at the V4 meeting as the European Commission adopted its new Circular Economy Action Plan at the beginning of this year. Adam Guibourgé-Czetwertyński, Polish Deputy Minister of Climate expressed support for the Commission’s proposals, arguing in favour of a support mechanism at an EU level for products manufactured in accordance with the principles of the circular economy using recyclable materials.

Shifting towards a circular economy has a significant potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions, however, it is still a foreign concept in the CEE region with countries showing a different level of engagement and readiness.

In July this year, Poland will take over the presidency of the V4 group from the Czech Republic. Minister Kurtyka underlined that climate policy will remain a key challenge for the EU and its member states and therefore also one of the main priorities of the Polish presidency.

“We intend to pay special attention to innovation during our presidency. It is important to strengthen existing V4 cooperation in the field of clean energy generation technologies,” he concluded.

The EU has already recently reaffirmed to make the Green Deal the engine of the economic relaunch after the corona crisis and that slowing down climate ambitions is definitely of the table. Meanwhile, the Commission also proposed to provide substantial additional funding for the Just Transition Fund – a crucial support mechanism for Central and Eastern European Member States – with Poland being the biggest beneficiary.

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