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Poland sees progress, no deal at Paris climate meet

  Poland, which has threatened to veto the European Union’s climate package, expects some progress but no final deal in talks in Paris set for Thursday, a senior source at the prime minister’s office said.


Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk is scheduled to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy, holder of the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, at 1530 GMT to discuss the bloc’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020. Poland and six other EU newcomers, Italy and Greece, as well as some heavy industry across the bloc, oppose the plan as too ambitious and as threatening their economic activities.

“I have no reason to say we are strong optimists about this meeting. But the proposals are going in the right direction, though they are still insufficient,” the source said. He said there was progress on Warsaw’s proposal to introduce a price cap and floor on carbon dioxide (CO2) emission permits -- the so-called ‘price corridor’. “We can also imagine we will be offered some limited benchmarking-auctioning and only for a few years, not until 2020 as we would prefer,” the source added.

Under this mechanism, free emission quotas for producing a certain amount of energy would be set that would equal the emissions by the cleanest and most technologically advanced energy producer from a certain source.

Other utilities would only have to buy permits to cover the difference between this set amount and their real emissions.

Poland, heavily reliant on coal for its energy needs, is also seeking offers of EU cash to upgrade out-dated power plants or of additional emission permits for free. But this would effectively weaken the EU’s carbon trading system. Sarkozy has made agreeing changes to the Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) a top priority for his country’s six-month presidency, but may be forced to offer a number of opt-outs and concessions to various member states and industries to clinch a deal in December.

“I don’t think this meeting will be a decisive breakthrough,” the source said. “The situation will only be clarified toward the very end, on the final EU summit day (on December 12).” (Reuters)