The UN Climate Summit COP24 begins on 3 December in Katowice, Poland. Instead of supporting climate protection and innovative solutions, Poland’s contribution to climate policy is the construction of a new coal-fired power plant Ostrołęka C.
Forcing the construction of a coal-fired power plant by the country which holds presidency of the climate summit is not only the height of hypocrisy, but also an act to the detriment of Poland - its environment, economy and people. Contrary to lofty declarations, Poland's real contribution to COP24 is the new climate wrecker Ostrołęka C’ says Diana Maciąga, climate campaigner from the Workshop for All Beings Association.
The aim of the climate summit in Katowice is to refine the details of the Paris Agreement concluded in 2015 and to approve its legal rules (Paris Rulebook). In other words - to agree on common solutions to ensure that the average global temperature does not rise above 1.5-2°C compared to the pre-industrial era. UN experts have no doubt - avoiding the climate catastrophe requires a 2/3 reduction in coal consumption by 2030 and a complete abandonment of this fuel by the middle of the century. If emissions are not drastically reduced, we will already exceed the 1.5 °C safety threshold in 2040.
The government’s duty is to ensure safety of citizens now and in the future. The UN warns that we have only 12 years left to act decisively to avoid catastrophic climate change. There is no room for new coal projects and the old ones must be closed. By approving the construction of Ostrołęka C, politicians are sending out a clear signal: coal is more important than the victims of catastrophic weather phenomena, dying species or a safe future for our children’ stresses Diana Maciąga.
It should be noted that the Ministry of Energy has provided numerous false information about Ostrołęka C which needs to be corrected. Contrary to the Ministry's claims, experts consider Ostrołęka C to be irrational, dangerous and unnecessary:
Further deepening of coal dependence means that Poland will remain the most polluted country in Europe, increasingly relying on fuel imported from abroad, mainly from Russia. Polish citizens are going to be hit by horrendous increase in electricity prices, which will also wreck competitiveness of the Polish economy.
With 1000 MW capacity, Ostrołęka C is the largest new coal-fired power plant planned in the European Union. The highly controversial project is jointly pursued by two Polish majority state-owned utilities Energa and Enea, GE Power being its general constructor. It costs over PLN 6 billion and will bring at least PLN 2.34 billion in losses. It will block development of renewable energy sources which would create 45%-1200% more jobs and an investment market worth EUR 157-204 million for the region, or EUR 2.4 - 4 bn on a national scale. The power plant will burn approx. 280 wagons of coal every day and emit about 6 million tons of CO2 annually becoming Poland’s new climate wrecker.
This highly unprofitable project had already been shelved in 2012. The utilities were forced to undertake it after 2015 parliamentary elections. Building Ostrołeka C have been an electoral promise of current Minister of Energy Krzysztof Tchórzewski and was a Law and Justice (PiS) campaign hot spot in local elections in October 2018. The Mazovia region, where Ostrołęka is located, is also the parliamentary constituency of Minister Tchórzewski.
Social organizations have also challenged the legal status of the plant’s integrated permit, and continue to raise legal challenges as its compliance with EU norms is questionable. Both the investor and governmental agencies treated Ostroleka C as an ‘existing’ power plant, even though it will not produce any energy until 2023. This would allow them to not comply with the most recent SO2, NOx and dust thresholds imposed by the Industrial Emission Directive and 2017 BAT conclusions.
UK's largest asset management company – LGIM – informed that it had serious concerns about Ostrołęka C project and called on Energa and Enea to stop it. The project had also sparked off controversies among Enea’s workers who criticised it as unprofitable and politically-driven, and filed a lawsuit for revoking the directional consent for its construction. This decision has also been challenged by the ClientEarth Foundation, Enea’s minority shareholder, which sued the utility for the financial risk of Ostrołęka C connected with the climate protection policy, the first lawsuit of this kind in the world.
Ostrołęka C - next steps for the last Europe’s coal power plant (Instrat Foundation, summary in English)
Ostrołęka C: Burning More Money Than Coal (Carbon Tracker)
The risk analysis related to the Ostrołęka C power plant development & Ostrołęka C – the investment rationale, and why is the project not rational at all (Instrat Foundation)
Stop Ostrołęka C Power Plant
Ostroleka C project
The last coal power plant in Poland may be only wishful thinking (Wysokienapiecie)
Poland’s ‘last coal power plant’ faces €1.7 billion loss, analysts say (Euractiv)
'Last Coal Plant In Poland' Shows How Carbon Restrictions Can Clean Up Power Sector(Forbes)
Major energy firms exposed to shareholder action over coal power plant Ostrołęka C