(Repeats story that ran on Feb 3)
* Wedded to coal energy, Poland balks at draft EU climate
* Latest tiff between eurosceptic Warsaw, Brussels
* Polish resistance on climate isolates it within EU
By Alissa de Carbonnel
BRUSSELS, Feb 5 Poland is threatening to
challenge a draft European Union climate law in court, EU
documents seen by Reuters show, in its latest move to slow an EU
campaign against global warming that Warsaw sees as a menace to
its coal-powered energy industry.
In what Polish diplomats describe as leverage for talks now
under way on how to spread the burden of EU climate goals among
member states, Warsaw is opposing the legal basis for the rules
- a battle it could take to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
It puts Poland at odds with the rest of the 28-nation bloc,
deepening fears in Brussels for the EU's ability to take the
lead if U.S. President Donald Trump rows back, as he has warned,
from global diplomacy to tackle climate change.
The EU's climate talks aim to strike a burden-sharing deal
to uphold its pledge made as part of the global climate change
deal reached in 2015 in Paris to slash greenhouse gas emissions
by at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Climate rules touch a raw nerve in Poland, however: Over 80
percent of its energy comes from high-polluting, coal-fired
plants and the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, elected
in 2015, campaigned on a pledge to defend the coal industry.
Warsaw's opposition to EU climate goals is driven by a wider
anger on the part of the eurosceptic government at EU complaints
that its policies are eroding Polish democracy, including steps
to limit the independence of the judiciary and media.
"But to challenge the legal basis (of EU climate policy) is
extreme even for Poland," one EU official told Reuters.
An EU document seen by Reuters, in which Poland outlines its
position for other member states, takes issue with the "legal
basis and global context" of the climate change draft.
Warsaw proposes to strike from the title and preamble to the
draft any mention that it aims to fulfil the EU commitment to
the Paris Agreement, saying the wording is "too far-reaching"
and raises doubt about the voluntary nature of the global pact.
It also cites an article in EU treaties that says rules on a
nation's "choice between different energy sources" can only be
adopted with the unanimous consent of the bloc's 28 nations,
which would bypass the EU's environmentally-minded parliament.
Polish diplomats pushed to append this same wording to the
EU's ratification of the December 2015 Paris accord to curb
"We were the troublemakers there, no doubt," a Polish
diplomat said, adding that its new protest was only an opening
gambit in the early stages of negotiations.
A spokeswoman for the European Commission said it was
confident of the legal grounding for its climate change bill.
"It's a bluff (by Poland)," said another EU official, though
adding that the EU executive was still concerned it may cause
market uncertainty. "The minute they get what they want, they'll
drop it. For them, it's an issue of national pride."
There is precedent suggesting Poland's action is serious: It
has separately sued at the ECJ to undo an EU reform of the
carbon market that adds to costs of burning fossil fuel.
Under the PiS government, Poland has become the first in the
EU to be put under European Commission watch to ensure it sticks
to the rule of law and democratic principles.
Warsaw's intervention on climate, critics say, has only
stoked these tensions. "What they're doing nationally,
eliminating a proper democratic process, is totally unacceptable
in Europe," said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch lawmaker who is
steering the draft climate law through the EU parliament.
EU diplomats say they are growing weary of Polish truculence
not just on climate but other policies key to EU cohesion, like
migrant quotas that Brussels wants every member state to accept.
"I'm not going to cry for them; they've gotten a lot of
sweeteners already," one EU diplomat said.
At Poland's behest, European leaders were left unpicking the
minutiae of energy policy at a December summit meant to tackle
EU divisions over migration, Britain's vote to exit the EU, and
how to handle an increasingly assertive Russia to the east.
"For many months now, Poland only ever appears on our agenda
over their domestic problems," another EU diplomat said.
But under the shadow cast on multilateral cooperation by
Trump and Brexit, some worry other EU member states will rally
around Poland's proposals to dilute climate law.
"It's going to be crucial that the secession of Britain
doesn't allow the less progressive voices on climate within the
EU to gain traction," said Gregory Barker, climate change
minister under former British prime minister David Cameron.
(Additional reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; editing by Mark