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Poland presses for ambitious 2040 EU climate target, signaling U-turn

Poland presses for ambitious 2040 EU climate target, signaling U-turn

by host

BRUSSELS — Poland’s new government will urge the European Union to “embrace” a plan to slash 90 percent of the bloc’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, a senior government official said on Monday — reflecting the country’s massive shift in climate policy.

The European Commission is set to publish a roadmap toward the bloc’s next climate target on February 6, and the EU’s Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change has recommended an emissions cut of 90-95 percent by 2040 compared to 1990 levels.

Arriving at an informal meeting of EU environment ministers in Brussels, Urszula Zielińska, secretary of state at Poland’s climate and environment ministry, told reporters that the bloc “absolutely needs to embrace ambitious targets, and we need to embrace the 90 percent emission reduction target. We do need to do it in a constructive way, looking after the social aspects.”

Only Denmark has explicitly backed a 90 percent to date, with Bulgaria last week saying the EU should at least “seriously discuss” that figure.

Asked to clarify if that meant Poland supported a 90 percent target, she said: “We are — cautiously — approaching it very constructively. We will be doing everything to achieve this target if the target is agreed.”

But Zielińska stressed that under the new government led by Donald Tusk, Poland would no longer block EU climate action — as the country often did under its prior government, helmed by the nationalist Law and Justice party.

“We cannot go on like this, Europe or the rest of the world,” she said. “We’re not meeting the safe climate targets now, so we have to step up … we’re in it together. The rest of Europe can count on Poland to step up our efforts on this.”

Zielińska also said she would seek to convince the government to formally endorse climate neutrality by 2050, an EU target every member country except Poland has endorsed, and that Warsaw would set a new “end date” for coal. Under current plans, Poland would only shut its mines in 2049.

Louise Guillot contributed reporting.

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