Poland blocks carbon targets

An attempt by European Union environment ministers to strengthen EU action to combat climate change was blocked by Poland last night, prompting a swift rebuke from the energy minister Chris Huhne.

"I'm deeply disappointed that the only country in the EU that could not accept a good compromise on how we can move Europe to a low carbon economy was Poland," he said in a statement.

"It's a dark day for Europe's leading role in tackling climate change, but the UK together with its European colleagues will continue to make the economic case for tighter EU carbon targets so that we can make the most of the future green economy," he added.

Ministers attending the talks had been discussing proposals to cut CO2 emissions by 40 percent compared to 1990 before 2030, by 60 percent by 2040 and by 80 percent by 2050. That would have entailed a 25 percent cut by 2020.

But Polish environment minister Andrzej Kraszewski called for understanding of the economic situation of Europe's poorer states. "Analysis should be widely discussed and reflect the economic consequences for each member state," he told reporters.

The move suggests friction on climate issues will increase in Europe during the second half of this year, when Poland holds the rotating presidency of the EU.