European Union carbon neutrality: Leaders agree 2050 target without Poland

Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks away after driving a Union flag-themed JCB with the words

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, whose country relies on highly polluting coal for some 80 per cent of its energy needs, said the negotiations had been "very hard".

European Union leaders reaffirmed their commitment to carbon neutrality by 2050 at a summit on December 12 in Brussels but failed to unanimously agree on its implementation due to Poland's concerns.

A major problem for coal-dependent nations Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic is the heavy costs associated with transforming their economy and energy sources.

On the EU summit the European Council is expected to finalise its directives for the EU's long-term climate strategy. "There is only one member state which still needs some more time to consider how to implement this".

"This was a very hard negotiation but the conclusions include this exemption, this rule that must also be included in the legislative process, the rule that Poland would be reaching climate neutrality at its own pace", Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told reporters.

Earlier in the day Poland floated the idea of setting the date at 2070.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Poland is heavily reliant on coal-fired power stations What is the EU's plan?

His Czech counterpart, Andrej Babis, also reached his goal as the conclusions of the meeting mentioned nuclear energy as part of some member states' energy mixes.

"We all know that climate change is a big problem and to fight against it is a huge undertaking which costs an enormous amount of money".

Prague's demand that it should be able to use European Union money to build nuclear power plants on its soil ran into opposition from Austria, Germany and Luxembourg.

According to Luxembourg's prime minister, Xavier Bettel, "every country is free to decide what kind of energy to produce", but nuclear energy should not be financed with the contributions of the European taxpayers.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban set the tone ahead of the talks, insisting that less affluent countries of eastern Europe must get generous and precise financial guarantees for their transition away from fossil fuels.

More than 60 percent of electricity in France is produced in nuclear power plants. "It is not possible because renewable energy is intermediary energy", he said.

Warsaw's discussions about introducing nuclear energy in the largest ex-communist European Union country have not yet been settled, partly due to high costs.

"I have no opposition in principle against nuclear energy, but I don't think, in the long term, that there is a future since it's not sustainable energy", Timmermans added.



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