By JR on Thursday, June 23, 2011
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso is apparently unconcerned that the chief architect of the EU's forthcoming multi-annual budget has major doubts over the existence of global warming.
Environmental groups are sounding alarm bells however, warning that EU budget commissioner Janusz Lewandowski's scepticism towards climate change is almost certain to affect his drafting of the crucial EU document which will shape the bloc's policy for years to come (2014-2020).
"There's an emerging point of view, that the thesis about coal energy as the main cause of global warming is highly doubtful," Lewandowski told Polish trade magazine Nowy Przemysl earlier this month.
"Question marks are appearing ever more frequently over global warming itself," added the Polish commissioner, whose country relies on coal for 90 percent of its electricity generation.
A spokesman for Lewandowski confirmed the accuracy of the statements.
"His overall line is that it would be impossible for Poland to shift away from coal overnight. But he also expressed his doubts over climate change, in a personal capacity," Patrizio Fiorilli told this website.
Barroso is apparently unconcerned by Lewandowski's comments however, despite recently issuing a speech in Brussels in which he declared: "The effects of climate change are - quite literally - all around us."
"We have a clear commission position on climate change which is the one that [EU climate commissioner] Connie Hedegaard expresses every week," said a spokesman for Barroso.
"We have no fears that when the budget is presented it will reflect the views of the commission as a whole," added Alejandro Ulzurrun.
Green groups said Lewandowski's comments were deeply perturbing however, amid reports that next week's budget proposals may include cuts for environmental schemes under the EU's common agricultural policy (CAP).
"It comes as a shock, especially following the commission president's recent statements. So much for collegiality," said Tony Long, director of the WWF's Brussels office.
"That degree of climate change scepticism is now rare in Europe, and even rarer among politician's of Lewandowski's seniority."
"One can't have much faith in the commission's budget proposals if one of the chief architects admits in a private capacity that he has doubts over global warming."
At the same time, various news reports suggest next week's highly-anticipated proposals may seek to cut spending under pillar two of the CAP, a funding stream currently used to reward farmers for various environmental activities such as protecting endangered wetlands.