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Poland eyes alliance with China in UN climate talks

  China and Poland, both deeply reliant on coal, could collaborate in global climate talks to ensure fighting greenhouse gases does not harm their economies, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said on Thursday.


Tusk, on a four-day visit to Shanghai and Beijing, said he had also discussed with Chinese officials and entrepreneurs the prospects for cooperation on clean coal technologies. “I expect that in China we will find an ally for the global climate talks. We are in a similar situation due to our coal-based economies. We cannot allow fighting climate change to destroy them,” he told a news conference in the Chinese capital.

Poland, the European Union’s largest ex-communist member, derives more than 90% of its electricity from coal. It has no nuclear power plants and virtually no renewable energy sources. Poland is set to host this year’s UN-led negotiations aimed at clinching a new worldwide climate deal.

The current Kyoto Protocol runs out in 2012 and sets no emission targets for developing countries such as China. The United States also did not sign up to the accord. The UN wants to clinch a new climate deal late next year in Copenhagen bringing in the United States, China and others. But China’s top climate negotiator said recently he saw little chance of signing up to the new deal. Many also fear the current financial turmoil and looming recession may leave little spare money for fighting climate change.

Tusk said he, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono would hold a videoconference on Friday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on the negotiations and preparations for the climate summit. The leaders are in Beijing for an EU-Asia meeting.



Tusk also said Poland, Hungary, the Baltic states and the Czech Republic would meet early in November to discuss the European Union’s plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions. “(Although) we are hosting the global environmental summit this year (in December), we have at the same time managed to increase the level of understanding for the particular situation of coal-based economies within the EU,” Tusk said.

Poland and other ex-communist countries in the EU fear the bloc’s plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by a fifth by 2020 will make their coal-powered industry uncompetitive, particularly with the global economy entering a recession.

Italy has also joined the group, threatening to veto the proposal unless it is adapted to protect Italian industry. Tusk has also said Poland might veto the agreement on climate change, due in December, if its concerns go unheeded. The relatively poor eastern member states want to delay EU plans to make industry pay fully for carbon dioxide emission permits from 2013. (Reuters)