Eastern European leaders and senior government officials have attacked key EU climate policies this week, saying tight resources should instead be used to fight the novel Coronavirus.
Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš told reporters the EU should scrap its €1 trillion ($1.1trn) plan to achieve an economy with net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
“Europe should forget about the Green Deal now and focus on the coronavirus instead,” the populist billionaire politician is quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.
“Europe is now the biggest epicentre of the coronavirus in the world.”
Poland’s deputy minister of state affairs, Janusz Kowalski, meanwhile demanded the European Emissions Trading System (ETS) to be abolished from next year on, or Poland to be excluded from the mechanism, to alleviate economies affected by the coronavirus epidemic, the Biznesalert news website said.
Rising CO2 emission allowances have led to higher electricity bills in Poland, Kowalski argued.
Heavily dependent on coal for their power generation, both the Czech Republic and Poland have been highly critical of the European Green Deal. Poland even has made clear it won’t commit to net zero by 2050 unless the EU pays it a large-enough share of the cost of exiting coal.
Both Poland and the Czech Republic have largely isolated themselves from the rest of Europe due to the Corona crisis, and have infection figures that are lower than elsewhere on the continent.
Poland early Wednesday had 238 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with five deaths, while Czechia had 434 cases without casualties so far, both according to the data base of Johns Hopkins University.