Poland exempted from 2050 climate neutrality deal - PM

The EU summit in Brussels on Thursday exempted Poland from the 2050 climate neutrality deal. Informing about the decision on Thursday night, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said it met Poland's expectations.

On Thursday, the first day of the summit, European Union leaders agreed on turning the bloc climate neutral by 2050. European Council President Charles Michel announced that Poland needed more time to reach climate neutrality and added that the European Union will come back to this subject in June 2020.

Commenting on the decision, Morawiecki called it a "very good result." He said Poland's climate policy was ambitious but also rational, and stressed that Poland had to adjust the pace of its climate transformation to the needs of its economy and people.

"We are pursuing a very ambitious, but at the same time economically rational climate and energy policy. We must ensure that the pace of the changes is adjusted to the needs of the Polish economy and Polish society," Morawiecki told reporters. He added that Poland had not presented a final date on which it is to reach climate neutrality. "We are speaking about no concrete date today," he said.

Morawiecki also announced that the conclusions adopted by the summit envisaged a EUR-100-billion Just Transition Fund in the next seven-year financial perspective to support energy transformation. "We know that a considerable part of this fund - it is difficult to say today what part, but surely a significant one - will be granted to Poland," he went on to say.

The Polish prime minister also said that in accordance with the final conclusions, the European Investment Bank "will allocate considerable funds to energy transition." He added that the conclusions also included a direct reference to nuclear energy.

PM Morawiecki underlined that the summit conclusions were good for Poland as they allowed Poland to "carry out its energy transition in a way which will be safe and economically beneficial," and "obliged Poland to do something but at the same allowed it room for manoeuvre."

"There are countries which can be aiming at climate neutrality in the 30's of the 21st century. This will be an expensive process but there are very rich states, which have not been hit by communism, a gigantic economic slowdown and huge losses resulting from the ineffective communist system. These countries can afford a different pace while we will adjust ours (the pace of energy transition - PAP) to the condition of our economy, to what we can afford, to the Just Transition Fund, and to what Poland can benefit from from this fund," Morawiecki said.

He also declared that the Polish energy transition "will be carried out with the use of Polish funds."

Summing up the summit, Morawiecki said that all countries were aware of the fact that some states needed more support than others, and pointed out that the conclusion regarding "the countries and regions most affected by the economic and energy transformation" showed that there was "understanding" among the EU member countries with regard to this problem.

On Friday afternoon, Morawiecki and Polish Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski also inaugurated a 'Polska Food Festival' in Brussels, which is to promote Polish food products.

At the close of the summit German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced understanding for Poland's stand regarding the climate neutrality goal, and pointed out that Poland had the most difficult starting point in this respect as 80 percent of its energy came from coal.

Jarosław Kaczyński, leader of Poland's ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, told PAP on Friday that Poland's exemption from the climate neutrality deal was a big success for Morawiecki and will help Poland avoid "enormous dangers."

"I appreciate what PM Morawiecki has achieved at the EU summit very highly, this is a very big success. We managed to avoid enormous dangers, I am thinking about very costly energy transformations which could have endangered our economy and on which we would have had no influence," Kaczyński told PAP.

Presidential aide Paweł Mucha called the summit decisions "a success for Poland and PM Morawiecki," and remarked that Poland was in a different situation than the wealthy Western countries and had to "come to certain solutions in its own way."

Government spokesperson Piotr Mueller said the summit decisions regarding Poland were a huge success for the prime minister, and observed that this was the first time in 20 years that the European Council had passed an exceptional ruling for one member state.

Morawiecki's office head, Michał Dworczyk, said on Twitter that Morawiecki had achieved Poland's exemption from the 2050 climate neutrality goal "in tough negotiations," and called the summit's decisions "another successful Morawiecki attack."

Andrzej Halicki from leading opposition party Civic Platform (PO) called Poland's exemption from the climate goal project "desertion," and the prime minister's and the ruling party's contentment with it "appalling."

"This is desertion when it comes to climate improvement undertakings. This move runs contrary to Polish interests," Halicki admonished, adding that Poland's exclusion from the climate goal deprived it of the possibility to abandon coal for more ecological energy sources.

Polish People's Party (PSL) leader Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz opined that Morawiecki "could not be congratulated for the effects of the climate talks, because he has (...) not managed to secure goals of importance to Poland and does not support environmental protection."

Beata Maciejewska from The Left observed that Poland "has entered on the war path against the whole European Union," and today was "a black coal stain on the green map of Europe."