Polish President Andrzej Duda’s attack on the European Union’s decarbonization policies this week is raising concerns that the country is on a collision course with the EU’s energy and climate policy agenda. “The Polish president doesn’t do energy policy,” said German MEP Reinhard Bütikofer, co-chair of the European Greens Party. He said no one is asking Poland to lead the fight against climate change, but urged Warsaw not to be a spoiler.“At least they shouldn’t constantly stand in the way of European efforts in this very direction,” he said. He also said he plans to talk with Polish government ahead of the COP21 climate talks in Paris this December to raise concerns that the EU is being much more ambitious in its emissions reduction policies than other large polluters, which “is unreasonable from the point of view of Europe’s economic competitiveness.”Duda said there “have to be hard words about the need to verify Europe’s commitments” in the climate and energy sectors when other countries aren’t imposing similar limits on their economies.Poland’s problem is that it has a triple disadvantage, said Christian Egenhofer, head of the energy and climate program at the Brussels-based Centre for European Policy Studies: the power sector is still heavily dependent on coal, the economy is still very energy inefficient, and per capita GDP is much lower than in western Europe.Any government has to live with this reality, Egenhofer said.While Duda’s comments are in line with the country’s long-standing position on climate and coal, the difference is that he “can present them more loudly” than former President Bronisław Komorowski, said Andrzej Kassenberg, co-founder of the Warsaw-based Institute for Sustainable Development.“Komorowski was a bit more delicate,” he said. Poland has long been among the leading opponents to the EU’s more ambitious emissions control ideas, in large part because Poland has the bloc’s largest coal industry, which generates almost 90 percent of its electricity.Additionally, the more than 100,000 people directly employed by the sector make for an attractive constituency in an election year and Poland has parliamentary elections scheduled for October 25.Duda, elected in May and sworn in earlier this month, joins the long list of Polish politicians who have put their defense of coal above Brussels’ environmental priorities. Donald Tusk, now the European Council president, and his successor as Polish prime minister, Ewa Kopacz, have both been full-throated defenders of Polish coal.“I think Poland has been basically the main divisive force of the last decade when it comes to European energy and climate policy,” Claude Turmes, energy policy spokesperson for the Greens in the European Parliament, said after Duda’s election.In an interview with POLITICO published this week, Duda lashed out at the EU’s emissions policy.“I do not agree with such a policy and will say that this is a policy that is completely at odds with the strategic interests of our country,” he said. “Which country wants to give up resources which it owns and which are a guarantee of its economic sovereignty and energy independence?” The fear in Brussels is that October’s election is likely to see Kopacz’s center-right Civic Platform party replaced by the more nationalist Law and Justice party backed by Duda. A prime minister as well as a president who are even more eager to protect coal than the current government could make it more difficult for the EU to push for the ambitious climate goals backed by greener countries like Germany and Scandinavia.“Naturally, it would be disadvantageous for European energy policy if during the parliamentary elections those powers won whose energy policy horizon doesn’t go beyond coal, coal, coal,” said Bütikofer. Also On POLITICO The world according to Duda By Jan Cienski Wersja Polska Świat Dudy By Jan Cienski Even though Duda is making his displeasure clear, it is unlikely that Poland will try to overturn the EU’s carefully prepared strategy for COP21.Miguel Arias Cañete, the European commissioner for climate action and energy, said this week that all of the EU’s 28 members, including Poland, had “unanimously” agreed last fall on common objectives for 2030, including reducing emissions by 40 percent and increasing renewables by at least 27 percent.To sweeten the deal for countries like Poland, the bloc committed funding to promote modernization and innovation projects in poorer countries’ energy systems and smooth the transition to a low-carbon future. Poland has received a substantial amount of free emissions permits to cushion the blow to its polluting industries.“It’s not illogical to defend national interests but what is often forgotten is the importance of derogations,” said Christian Democrat MEP Ivo Belet, who was the European Parliament’s lead policy maker on this year’s emissions trading scheme reform, the bloc’s main decarbonization instrument.“Always when I see and encounter my Polish colleagues, I stress these important derogations like the solidarity mechanism,” whereby 10 percent of total annual allowances will be allocated to Poland and other lower-income countries, said the Belgian MEP. “Everyone in the EU has to respect European law … and of course with regard to Paris, it’s very important that the EU goes there with a unified position.”While defending coal and denouncing decarbonization may annoy EU officials, it is broadly popular in Poland. Duda’s pro-coal talk is aiming at keeping Poland’s thousands of miners happy, said Egenhofer. “You cannot scare miners too much before the elections,” he said.