Lawyers at ClientEarth are heralding “the end for new coal” in Europe, after Polish utilities Enea and Energa announced last night that they would suspend work on the controversial new Ostrołęka C plant, citing economic concerns.
The companies said “billions of zlotys in promised funding would be pulled from the plant due to changing market circumstances triggered by climate policy, and the continued flight of global capital away from coal,” the London-based legal charity says in a release.
The companies’ announcement cites changing market conditions and difficulties obtaining external financing.
“It was clear from the start that this plant was a stranded asset in the making and would destroy value for shareholders,” said Marcin Stoczkiewicz, ClientEarth’s head of Central and Eastern Europe, said in a release.
“In Poland, coal power has been fiercely defended—but the economics are coming to bear and companies can no longer deny it,” he added. “It is only fair to workers, communities, and the planet to embrace this shift now, not when it’s too late.”
ClientEarth says it won two lawsuits against Enea in the second half of last year. In August, a court invalidated the decision to proceed with construction. In November, a judge instructed the company to “publish documents that would explain how the plant would be profitable,” the release recounts. “The company had not provided these documents, nor an explanation of where the necessary extra funding would come from, before the release of the decision to put the project on hold.”
But the Ostrołęka C story isn’t over just yet, after Poland’s Minister of State Assets Jacek Sasin said the project might be converted from coal to gas. “This option is still harmful for the climate, as gas is still a fossil fuel with significant life cycle emissions,” ClientEarth warns.