Allies in the making? These countries in ‘behind-the-scenes revolt’ against Obama’s global warming deal

Andrew Follett, DCNF

Eastern European countries are mounting a behind-the-scenes revolt against the European Union (EU) global warming policies, according to documents seen Monday by the news site Climate Home.

(AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

Documents suggest Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, collectively known as the Visegrad countries, are trying to block or water down EU efforts to meet goals laid out in the Paris climate agreement, which they see as harmful to their economies and energy infrastructure.

“We cannot allow backward-looking east EU states to destroy the EU’s credibility on the Paris agreement,” Claude Turmes, the European parliament’s lead climate negotiator, told ClimateHome Monday.

“A successful and ambitious energy transition is one of the few remaining positive stories for Europe,” Turnes said. “If we allow that to be drained by vested old interests from east Europe, our international credibility – and the last remaining trust of our citizens – will be smashed.”

Climate Home reports the Visegrad revolt “mirrors president Donald Trump’s rollback of climate policy in Washington.” A top White House economic adviser said last week keeping the Obama administration’s Paris agreement goals would be “highly crippling” to economic growth.

Under the terms of the Paris Agreement, the EU promised to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2030, mostly by revising existing green energy legislation and reforming the continent’s ailing cap-and-trade system. The Visegrad countries, all EU members, have been locked in an escalating series of legal challenges over global warming policies.

Europe wants to restructure its current carbon dioxide pricing system, but Poland in particular fears the changes would be a heavy burden for its factories and coal-fired power stations. Poland sees its coal power fleet as critical to the country’s energy and national security.

Poland, in particular, has resisted EU global warming plans. The country filed a lawsuit in March challenging a recent EU proposal to reform its cap-and-trade system. The conservative and anti-EU Law & Justice party controls Poland’s government — the first political party to win enough seats in parliament to govern alone since the Soviet Union collapsed.

Poland’s environmental ministry argued the EU’s CO2 pricing scheme is not binding because it did not have the full backing of the bloc’s 28 member nations. Nine other nations also opposed the deal.

The EU claims the regulations aren’t formal yet and therefore don’t need backing from every European nation. Poland has repeatedly opposed EU measures to combat global warming and has coal subsidies.

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