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Representatives of Polish NGOs participated in Annual General Meetings of major coal companies and Poland’s largest insurer PZU in order to gain first-hand information on their plans which are shaping Polish energy market. A dose of disregard for the code of good practices regarding communication and investor relations was revealed in these instances.

Due to a lack of a comprehensive national climate and energy policy, future of the sector seems to depend on strategic decisions taken by utilities. Their investments will shape the energy mix and determine whether a shift towards a greater share of renewables occurs or the coal-dominated status quo persists. However, the fact that publicly listed companies fall under scrutiny of investors who become increasingly aware of climate-related financial risks [1] will eventually require Polish utilities to consider climate change in their strategies. For maintaining the existing coal fleet and expanding its capacity can turn out to be a more expensive plan than investing in renewables if the modernization costs and the rising prices of ETS are taken into account [2,3].

Representatives of the Association Workshop for All Beings asked for information on the future of the coal-fired power plant Ostrołęka C jointly planned by Energa S.A and Enea S.A. According to Minister for Energy Krzysztof Tchórzewski, this project would be the last coal-fired power plant built in Poland. Ostrołęka C is controversial not only because it clearly contradicts the emission reduction targets which stem from the 1,5 C goal of the Paris Agreement. Experts warn that the costs of the investment presented by Enea and Energa are underestimated, and that the project is unprofitable and will have negative impact on the region and the Polish energy system [4]. The questions for the Boards of Directors concerned the conditions under which the Ostrołęka C project would be viable (the cost of capital, financial support provided through the capacity market, various scenarios of increase of the price of CO2 allowances, energy price, the annual number of hours of energy production,competition with low operation cost renewable energy ). They also wanted to know who will provide financing for the project and who will underwrite it [5].

On Monday June 25th Enea Board of Directors refused to answer these questions on the grounds of Article 428 (2) of Polish Commercial Companies Code [6]. Two days later Energa’s shareholders gathered in Gdańsk were not allowed to asked any questions though the Board committed to answering in writing within 14 days. Shareholders of both companies voted in favour of resolutions that ruled out dividend payments for 2017.

This decision seems to confirm that Enea and Energa have difficulties in obtaining funding for the Ostrołęka C project. While leading financial institutions refuse to provide funding for harmful coal projects, the companies reach directly into the shareholders’ pockets to pay for their coal ambitions. - says Klaudia Bort, representative of the Association who attended Enea’s AGM.

Represtentatives of Foundation ‘Development YES – Open-pit mines NO’ attended annual general meetings of utilities ZE PAK and PGE, as well as PZU, a national insurer that underwrites a number of Polish mines and coal-fired power plants and intends to provide coverage for the construction of the Ostrołęka C project.

Despite local resistance and several lost trials in courts [7], ZE PAK still plans to expand its operating lignite open-pit mines and to develop new sites. Questions asked by a campaigner from Foundation ‘DY-OPMN’ concerned ZE PAK’s plans regarding Dęby Szlacheckie field, a fact that the company operations at Tomisławice open-pit mine are carried out without required water permits, and ZE PAK’s CO2 reduction plans and company’s roadmap to climate neutrality. ZE PAK’s Board committed to provide written response within 14 days.

During PZU’s AGM on June 28, a campaigner from ‘DY-OPMN’ asked questions regarding climate-related risks and inquired whether the company would act accordingly to the industry’s recent trend [8],thus consider moving away from underwriting mines and coal-fired power plants. However, the chair of the AGM dismissed the majority of questions from ‘DY-OPMN’ as he found them irrelevant. Nevertheless, the CEO of PZU responded to two questions. Paweł Surówka confirmed that the company is monitoring its potential reputational risks that might arise from PZU’s engagement in coal sector [9].

PZU seems to ignore climate-related financial and reputational risks that underwriting and investments in coal sector might cause. You can’t really care for your clients’ health or assets managed via investment or pension fund and underwrite or invest that money in coal companies at the same time - says Jan Chudzyński from Foundation ‘DY-OPMN’.


AGM of Polish largest utility, PGE, was scheduled for July 26 yet it was interrupted as a consequence of a resolution adopted by a majority vote of shareholders. The meeting will be resumed on Thursday, July 19.

The participants of Enea and Energa’s AGM were provided with briefings on the companies’ engagement in the coal sector and its impact on public health as well as a report which shows Ostrołeka C’s negative impact on the region and challenging feasibility of this project [10]. Shareholders and representatives of PZU and the representative of the State Treasury were given reports and brochures ‘Coal PZU’ written by Foundation ‘DY-ON’ [11].

Contact:
Diana Maciąga, Association Workshop for All Beings, tel. +48 502 646 890, diana@pracownia.org.pl;
elektrowniaostroleka.com/en
Jan Chudzyński, Foundation „RT-ON”, tel. +48 534 634 889, j.chudzynski@rt-on.pl,
rozwojtak-odkrywkinie.pl/en/

[1] Maciej Bukowski, prezes Wise Europa: Banki muszą brać pod uwagę ryzyko klimatyczne

[2] Czy Polska jest gotowa na klimatyczny efekt domina?

[3] IEEFA report: Poland’s biggest utility is risking financial instability by doubling down on coal-fired generation

[4] Ostrołęka C more expensive than space travel

[5] Dywidenda nie dla akcjonariuszy. Czy sfinansuje Ostrołękę C?

[6] The management board shall refuse to provide information where this could bring damage to the company, an affiliated company or a dependent company or cooperative, in particular due to the disclosure of technical, commercial or organisational secrets relating to the enterprise.

[7] Ekolodzy utrudniają życie Zygmuntowi Solorzowi. "Zachodzi pytanie o możliwość racjonalnego planowania działalności"

[8] Ubezpieczyciele odwracają się od sektora węglowego. Czas na PZU

[9] Walne zgromadzenie Grupy PZU: Zarząd PZU unika tematów ryzyka klimatycznego oraz ubezpieczania sektora węglowego

[10] The risk analysis related to the Ostrołęka C Power Plant development<

[11] Węglowe PZU

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