The EU must put fighting climate change on pause for the sake of energy security, PM Morawiecki argued
The noble cause of combating climate change should take a backseat to the immediate goal of fighting Russia, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said. In an opinion piece published in the Financial Times on Monday, he argued that the EU should significantly relax its greenhouse emissions rules.
“Poland recognizes the importance of fighting climate change. However, we must do everything possible to ensure that the virus of neo-imperialism does not develop in our own backyard,” the Polish official wrote.
Morawiecki’s criticism was primarily directed at the EU’s Emission Trading System (ETS), which requires certain industries to buy allowances to produce greenhouse gas in a carbon market. Established in 2005, the system entails overall allowances being reduced over time in order to pressure energy producers, airlines and other major polluters to go green.
Warsaw has long criticized the arrangement for allegedly driving energy prices higher than necessary. Poland’s state-owned energy sector is dominated by coal plants, which are significant producers of carbon dioxide.
Politicians in the country have complained that the surge of prices in the ETS market was hurting consumers. However, critics have accused Warsaw of misleading the public by exaggerating the effect of the EU emissions trade on Polish utilities and failing to account for the profits the government makes by selling allowances.
In his piece for the FT, Morawiecki reiterated his calls to reform the ETS and said that the pleas of his nation and other Eastern European countries had finally been heard in Brussels.
Poland claims that financial speculation in the emissions market was a driving force behind the increase of the allowance price by almost an order of magnitude since 2018. It went from below €10 per metric ton of carbon to above €90.
However, the European Securities and Markets Agency investigated the situation and found no market abuse. The European Central Bank said the introduction of increasingly stringent climate change policies in the EU was a key factor making the allowances more costly.
Morawiecki said the current energy price hike in Europe, which he blamed on Russia, required drastic measures. His country proposes suspending the ETS trade and fixing the allowance price at €30 for a year or two. A return of coal energy is another possible measure, he said.
“It may be a necessary condition of maintaining a strong European community capable of resisting Russia and supporting Ukraine,” he said.