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Poland calls for EU's 'Fit for 55' climate legislation to be revised or postponed

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Poland has called for the revision or postponement of the EU's 'Fit for 55' climate proposals ahead of this week's EU Council summit, with the country's most powerful politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski saying Oct. 20 that Russian behavior over gas supplies made advocates of the plan look "ridiculous".

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In a non-paper circulated among EU member states ahead of Thursday's EU Council meeting, Poland said that in the light of rising energy prices in Europe the Fit for 55 legislation, which aims to cut the bloc's emissions by at least 55% before the end of the decade, should be revised.

Any elements of the package that could have a negative impact on energy price should be analyzed, revised or postponed, the document said.

"The surge in energy prices has a direct impact on all EU citizens and comes at a particularly high socio-economic cost, especially for the most vulnerable households, while the EU is still dealing with the profound economic fall-out caused by the COVID-19 pandemic," the document said.

Poland also argued that the EU Emissions Trading System and the bloc's carbon market and energy taxation directive, which establishes minimum tax rates on electricity, should be revised.

Meanwhile the head of Poland's governing Law and Justice (PiS) party said events since EU Member States agreed the Fit for 55 legislation in July had changed, and it was no longer acceptable.

"We agreed to some solutions because in return we negotiated, for example, funds that are of great importance to our country. Let me be completely clear. I think that when it comes to climate issues, reality quickly repudiates different theses," Kaczynski said in an interview with the pro-government weekly, Gazeta Polska, published Oct. 20.

"After the Russian action concerning gas, the creators and advocates of this Fit for 55 have, to put it mildly, made themselves look ridiculous. Energy prices have hit many EU countries with such force that their citizens simply will not agree to raise them further in the name of some unproven theories," he said.

Separately, in a letter to EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager published on Oct. 20, Poland's Climate and Environment minister Michal Kurtyka, called for urgent steps to combat rising energy prices.

"The scale of the rise in price is unprecedented, with more than twelve-fold year-on-year growth. This is much more than the rise in oil prices during the 1970s oil crisis," he wrote.

Kurtyka said lower-than-expected gas deliveries from Gazprom were boosting European energy prices with booked gas transit via the Yamal pipeline, which delivers Russian gas through Belarus to Poland and Germany down by 90% for November. In October, only about 30% of Yamal's capacity was booked, he said.

Possible concessions

The EC's narrative that high energy prices pointed to EU overdependency on fossil fuels, and the need to speed up investment in renewables, was not convincing to those member states pushing back on an accelerated energy transition, Giorgio Corbetta of advisory firm Global Counsel told S&P Global Platts Oct. 15.

Some concessions may be needed, with the easiest file to compromise on potentially being outside of the Fit for 55 package, namely state aid, the inclusion of natural gas and nuclear in the taxonomy, and the review of the gas market, Corbetta said.