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EU climate chief vows Poles won't scupper 2050 carbon goals

The EU will not allow opposition from Poland to stop it moving ahead with its 2050 carbon emissions reduction goals, says climate action commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

Hedegaard criticised Poland after the nation used its veto for a second consecutive time to block the European Commission’s low-carbon roadmap.

The roadmap sets out a series of targets needed to achieve an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050, including an increase in the near-term target to 25% by 2020 from the current goal of 20%.

''The bad news was that Poland blocked Council conclusions for the second time,” says Hedegaard. “The good and encouraging news is that Poland was the only country to block. The Presidency and the other 26 member states explicitly asked the Commission to move on, and that is what we will do.”

She slammed comments by the Polish environment minister, who supported the 2050 reduction objective in general terms, but argued that achieving it should be up to members states themselves as a matter of "subsidiarity".

“The EU can't work like this. The EU is a democratic community where negotiations are about give and take to get a good result for all,” Hedegaard says. “We can't move forward if the most reluctant one dictates the pace to the rest.”

Hedegaard adds that there are a number of proposals from the Commission designed to achieve the 2050 targets, including the energy-efficiency directive which it hopes to get approved in June.

The Commission will now work on “further measures needed to reach the cost-efficient milestones that will lead us to a low-carbon future''.

Denmark – which is on the verge of approving ambitious new wind-energy targets – is keen to use the presidency of the EU, which it holds for the first six months of this year, to get approval for the emissions targets.

The Commission published the goals last year. They foresee a cut of 40% by 2030 and 60% in 2040 compared to 1990 levels, as well as a 25% cut by 2020 if countries step up cost-savings from energy-efficiency measures.

Poland gets about 90% of its power from coal plants. It has repeatedly opposed more ambitious targets and has called for Europe to wait for a global emissions-reduction deal before making any new commitments.