Polish Presidency highlights EU climate paradox
As Poland starts its EU Presidency today, serious doubts loom over its willingness to provide ambitious leadership on EU climate policies. Paradoxically, it is the EU’s own public banks which are sponsoring the country’s unfettered coal industry, the root cause of Polish climate scepticism.
1 July 2011
Brussels / Warsaw – As Poland starts its EU Presidency today, serious doubts loom over its willingness to provide ambitious leadership on EU climate policies. Paradoxically, it is the EU’s own public banks which are sponsoring the country’s unfettered coal industry, the root cause of Polish climate scepticism.
85 percent of the electricity currently used in Poland comes from coal. Many of the country’s coal capacities are in dire need of modernisation or decommissioning. While the country could use this opportunity to invest in renewables and energy efficiency, the 2030 energy policy envisages that, two decades from now, 75 percent of the country’s energy demand will still be covered from coal. At the moment, 15 000 MW of new coal capacities are planned to be built in the next years.
In June, Poland was the only country to oppose the conclusions of an EU Environmental Council seeking to endorse the Europe 2050 roadmap calling for 25 percent emissions reductions by 2020 – 5 percent more than the current binding EU goal. According to Bankwatch, this step was justified by the country’s choice to continue relying on the most polluting type of energy generation.
The cost of the investments required in energy generation and infrastructure in Poland until 2020 range from EUR 41 billion to EUR 98.5 billion. Both the EIB (the European Investment Bank, the EU house bank) and the EBRD (the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) have been involved in financing fossil fuel projects in Poland in the past and the EIB has approved one new coal project as recently as this March. It is the case of a hard coal CHP in Bielsko Biala, which is estimated to cost EUR 155.9 million from which EIB plans to finance half. Several more coal plants are currently being evaluated by these banks for potential investments.
“The Polish resistance to more ambitious climate goals for the EU has been criticized in Brussels, but at the same time some of the huge new planned coal capacities in Poland might not go ahead without finacial support from the European public banks,” explains Kuba Gogolewski, Bankwatch coal campaigner. “While Brussels does not interfere in countries’ energy mixes, the two banks have the freedom of rejecting coal financing and supporting renewables instead. Their preference for large coal projects actually encourages the development of this sector in Poland, a direct cause of the country’s reactionary positions on climate goals.”
For more information, contact:
Coal campaigner, CEE Bankwatch Network
Tel.: (+48) 721 440 119
Notes for the editors:
1. Tauron – South Poland CHP in Bielsko Biala: http://www.eib.org/projects/pipeline/2009/20090549.htm
2. The most recent cases for EBRD being Belchatow II project in 2005 and Patnow II in 2003 (both lignite power plants).
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Institution: EBRD | EIB
Theme: Energy & climate