Poland has negotiated major concessions that will allow its coal-fired power plants to receive subsidies under the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS).
“Environmentalists warn this will allow Poland to use billions in ETS money to fund the life extension of coal power plants until 2030, without any environmental safeguards,” Euractiv reports.
“EU member states cannot bend to Poland and allow the money dedicated to boosting the clean energy transition to be spent on funding coal power plants,” said Joanna Flisowska, Coal Policy Coordinator at Climate Action Network-Europe.
The Polish government “has been calling for an increase in the amount of emission permits it can distribute for free to coal power plants under article 10c of the reformed ETS directive, which was originally created to help poorer EU countries in their transition away from fossil fuels,” Euractiv explains. Under the latest proposal, “the number of permits that can be used to fund the clean energy transition will be raised from 40% to 60% of the auctioning volumes, meeting a key demand from Warsaw.”
Netherlands, Germany, France, and the UK have been arguing for strict criteria for allocating ETS revenue, including a restriction for power plants that emit more than 450 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of production. That provision, supported by the European Parliament, would effectively exclude coal plants.
But Estonia, which holds the six-month rotating chair of the EU, apparently introduced a series of “compromise” amendments at Poland’s behest.
“If the EU wants to be consistent with its commitments under the Paris Agreement, all coal plants have to be closed. Halting coal subsidies is the crucial first step,” Flisowska said. That means “the Emission Performance Standard must be introduced to guarantee the much-needed shift of investments to sustainable renewable energy, energy [efficiency], and an upgrade of electricity grid infrastructure.”