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Poland seeks to balance Pope's climate call with energy security

Thursday, June 18, 2015 - 18:33
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Poland will seek to reconcile its use of coal as a guarantee of energy security with Pope Francis's warning about the risk of fossil fuels.

[BRUSSELS] Poland will seek to reconcile its use of coal as a guarantee of energy security with Pope Francis's warning about the risk of fossil fuels.

The predominantly Roman Catholic east European country, which sees its coal deposits as a safeguard against energy dependence on neighboring Russia, will aim to lower pollution from the fossil fuel thanks to new technologies, Treasury Minister Andrzej Czerwinski said on Wednesday.

The Papal encyclical endorses a scientific basis for global warming that pins much of the blame on pollution from coal, oil and natural gas and calls for an urgent, drastic cut in fossil- fuel emissions in an appeal to pull "Mother Earth" out of a "spiral of self-destruction."

Poland relies on coal for 90 per cent of its power production, with the biggest miner Kompania Weglowa ranking as the third-largest employer in the country.

"It is not that we have to shut coal," Mr Czerwinski told TVP television in an interview. "I hope that the debate around the Papal action will help us recognize that it all should be balanced."

The encyclical denounced the world's political leaders for putting national self-interest ahead of action before the United Nations conference on climate scheduled to start in Paris on Nov. 30. With fossil-fuel emissions and temperatures at record levels, envoys from more than 190 countries aim for a deal to cut greenhouse gases that would for the first time wrest commitments from both developed and developing nations.

While the battle against global warming is imperative, Poland can't bear a higher burden than other countries just because its energy security depends on coal, Czerwinski said.

"It should be used because it is a part of our natural riches but we also have the knowledge on how to use it to avoid polluting the environment," he said.

BLOOMBERG

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