Yesterday (28.03.2019) mBank published a policy which excludes financing new mines and coal-fired power plants. In response to a minority shareholder's questions about bank’s approach to climate targets set in the Paris Agreement, mBank's CEO stated that they do not have a sufficient know how for further changes. He also claimed that radically limiting relations with the largest greenhouse gas emitters in Poland would be unjustified.
As early as August 2016, mBank's majority shareholder, Commerzbank, published its coal policy which is considered to be one of the most progressive in the world. The fact that mBank was not included in the policy was all the more surprising. The exclusion of the subsidiary from its coal strategy by a large bank was an unprecedented situation. In April 2018, representatives of Polish social organisations for the first time called on mBank to publish a climate policy and to stop financing companies planning new coal-based projects. mBank grants loans and credits to the largest coal energy utilities in Poland such as PGE, ZE PAK, Enea and Energa.
The policy of the parent company, Commerzbank, not only ends financing of projects for new coal mines and power plants, but also limits financing of individual power plant components and coal-related infrastructure, such as the expansion of rail networks or ports of loading. The bank also expects its German clients from the energy supply sector to limit the share of electricity generated from coal (based on their production performance) to below 30 per cent by the end of 2021. A corresponding cap of 50 per cent is expected for clients based outside of Germany. mBank's long-awaited statement only pales in comparison.
‘Yesterday's declaration by mBank to stop financing mines and coal-fired power plants is a long-awaited step in the right direction,’ comments Kuba Gogolewski, a financial campaigner from ‘Development YES Open-Pit Mines NO’ Foundation, who participated in mBank’s Annual General Meeting. ‘However, mBank is committed to supporting the coal sector primarily through corporate loans and bond issues. The real test for mBank this year will be the gradual phasing out of revolving loans and the lack of new corporate loans for utilities which are planning new coal-fired power plants: ENEA, ENERGA, PGE and those planning new mines: PGE, ZE PAK, Bogdanka, PGG, Tauron.’
During the General Meeting of Shareholders, Kuba Gogolewski also asked whether and from when mBank intends to report greenhouse gas emissions resulting from its loans (SCOPE 3) and whether the bank intends to gradually expire credits for high-emission sectors - such as lignite-based electricity generation - and if so, whether the Management Board has a specific policy setting out the pace and scale of such operations, its schedule and reporting rules.
Clients of mBank: PGE and ZE PAK plan to build new opencast lignite mines, such as Złoczew and Ościsłowo, which are already at an advanced stage of development. These projects have met with strong opposition from local residents. Other clients of the bank, Enea and Energa, are the investors of the largest new coal-fired power plant built in the EU - 1000 MW Ostrołęka C.
In the statement of 28.03.2019 we read: [mBank] will also not establish relations with companies in which the share of electricity from this raw material [coal] (calculated on the basis of generation capacity measurement) is over 50%.
The decision not to "establish relations" while relations with the largest energy market players in Poland have already been established will not bring the bank closer to aligning its policy with climate targets. Neither will it bring any incentive for Polish companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. In practice, further granting corporate loans enables companies to develop harmful and economically unjustified projects such as the Ostrołęka C coal-fired power plant, which should never be built in the first place" comments Diana Maciąga, climate and energy coordinator at the Association Workshop for All Beings (Pracownia na rzecz Wszystkich Istot).
Representatives of social organisations will also take part in the Annual General Meeting of mBank's main shareholder, Commerzbank, which will take place in Frankfurt am Main in the second half of May 2019.
Kuba Gogolewski, ‘Development YES Open-Pit Mines NO’ Foundation
Recording of the General Meeting of Shareholders
Question asked by Kuba Gogolewski: 1:21:38 (in Polish)