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Climate change: Poland and France clash over Macron’s comments

Paris, France – Poland and France have crossed swords in recent days over comments made by the French President criticizing Warsaw’s lack of commitment to tackling climate change.

Macron urges climate change protesters in France to “go to Poland”

In the plane taking him to the U.N. climate summit held in New York last week, Emmanuel Macron didn’t mince his words, pointing the finger at Poland for being responsible of blocking any attempt at the EU level to curb the bloc’s emissions – referring to Warsaw’s decision to torpedo, along with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Estonia, an EU resolution to target zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The truth is, there’s one [country] that blocks everything, it’s Poland”, he said, hinting at the country’s continued reliance on coal and fossil fuels for its energy needs. “My goal is to convince other countries to move forward”.

Reacting to the mass climate youth marches held in France and throughout the world, Macron said they should rather “go protest in Poland” to help him “move those I cannot push forward” in his fight against climate change, French daily Le Monde reported.

Poland hits back

Unsurprisingly, Poland didn’t take too well what it saw as unabashed finger-pointing, and quickly hit back. On Twitter, the Polish Embassy in Paris said that Poland was one of the rare EU countries to have “considerably reduced its CO2 emission from 1988 to 2017 (around 30%). We wish similar results to our partners!”.

The embassy further claimed that, as host of the COP24 Climate Change Conference in Katowice earlier this year, Poland had been instrumental in implementing the Paris Agreement signed by world leaders back in 2015.

“I’m not stigmatizing anyone. But I want to convince our Polish friends that it’s good for them to move on this”, Macron, who is supposed to embark on an official state visit to Poland early next year, later said during a press conference.

“President Macron did indeed speak. I believe that it was at least inelegant, because it is not a truthful statement”, later reacted Polish President Andrzej Duda.

French President’s comments face backlash at home

His comments also faced a backlash at home, especially from the left, where the candor of his pro-environmental agenda has left many sceptical and unconvinced.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of the far-left party ‘Unbowed France’, accused the president of “contempt”, while the spokesman of the French Communist Party (PCF) Ian Brossat condemned his comments as examples of “boundless arrogance”.