Working Paper, Institute for International Political Economy Berlin 89/2017
The European Union has been prizing itself for being the global leader in terms of climate change; its triptych approach and the 20-20-20 targets were certainly an enviable effort prior to the United Nations Convention. However, with the economic crisis having left its mark, there has been a decrease in ambitiousness and the paradigm is now dominated by competitiveness. The 2014 energy and climate package and its 2030 targets were therefore not only comparably unambitious but also nonbinding, with only GHG emission reduction being set. With the eastern countries traditionally being not very fond of climate policies, the thesis especially concentrates on where Poland and its coal-based energy system have stood as things developed and therefore assesses the role the country and the broader Visegrad Group had. Asking questions that get at the underlying reasons, the liberal intergovernmental framework is chosen to analyze how domestic preference building in Poland takes place, finding that the conventional energy sector has a tremendous impact on policy making. While Poland absorbed the directives to fit them into existing practices, without causing substantial structural changes, it applied a much more aggressive approach in the run up to the 2030 process, sending clear signals and thereby significantly contributing to the lowered ambitiousness of EU policies. Stemming not exclusively from a turn in the international environment, the learning process of the eastern Member States in the post-accession period played a decisive role in this development.