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Europe's most polluting coal power plant reverses commitment to reduce pollution

 

Press Release - For Immediate Release

Europe's most polluting coal power plant reverses commitment to reduce pollution

[Berlin, Brussels, 12th April 2014] The European Commission (EC)'s February decision to allow Polish state owned energy company PGE to continue operating two outdated production units at Belchatow, Europe's largest coal power plant and biggest CO2 emitter, is being challenged by NGOs. According to a letter two groups sent recently to the EC (1), the Commission's decision ignores a previous agreement the plant operator made with lenders to shut down two units by the end of 2015.

The operator BOT Elektrownia Belchatow SA, which was taken over by state-owned Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) in 2007, agreed to close down units 1 and 2 of the Belchatow plant in central Poland under the terms of an agreement with a consortium of international financial institutions, led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), that were financing the modernisation of part of the plant (2). "The operator of Belchatow promised to shut-down the plant's two oldest units by the end of 2015 in exchange for a huge cash injection to fund the replacement of a different unit," said Christian Schaible from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). "It is not only environmentally reckless to consider further exemptions for these oldest units, but it is also blatant cheating."

According to the EBRD website the loan was given on the basis of "[...]significant environmental benefits as the new [unit] will [...] replace older polluting generating units in Poland leading to reduced pro rata emissions." (3) To date, there is no publicly available data that suggests that PGE has taken the steps to fulfil its commitment to close the units. In fact under Poland's Transitional National Plan the operator wants to keep running the units beyond 2020. (4)

This controversy comes at the same time that government delegates are meeting in Berlin to finalise the summary of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which addresses how to best reduce CO2 emissions. "The decision to extend the life of this filthy and outdated coal plant flies in the race of the latest findings from the IPCC, which is just now discussing the role of coal in our low-carbon future," said Kathrin Gutmann of CAN Europe.

Belchatow's 13 units are not only the largest point source of CO2 emissions in Europe (5), but they also release huge amounts of dangerous air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides and particulate matter. These noxious gases are subject to the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which introduces stricter limits for power plants as of January 2016. However, Poland opted for exemptions from these limits with a Transitional National Plan (TNP) which allows the introduction of more effective pollution controls for a set of power plants to be postponed until July 2020. The Polish plan covers 73 installations, including units 1-12 of Belchatow.

"Belchatow is the single biggest contributor to health and environmental problems of any power plant in the European Union," says Julia Huscher from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). "The operator's own environmental impact assessment clearly states that shutting down the plant's two units would lead to cleaner air and a consequent decline in respiratory illness. Ignoring this opportunity by allowing the lifetime of these two units to be prolonged means unnecessary and unjustifiable harm to human health." (6)

ENDS

Notes for the editors:

(1) Letter to the European Commission by EEB and HEAL:
http://www.eeb.org/EEB/?LinkServID=EFC156E5-5056-B741-DB3520FA2E39DE5D
A Transitional National Plan (TNP) allows Member States to exempt large combustion plants from minimum binding emission limits for SO2, NOx and dust (PM2.5 and PM10) which have been tightened up through the EU Industrial Emissions Directive with effect of 1st January 2016. The TNP derogation instead allows operators to delay stricter limits up to July 2020 through setting a common emissions volume for all power plants, thus postponing costly investments in new pollution control techniques.

(2) The modernisation plan includes the construction of a new block (unit 13), for which blocks 1 and 2 should be closed, and the modernization of blocks 3-12. Additionally, flue gas desulfurization systems to remove sulfur dioxide from the stacks should have been installed at two units which didn't have any filters for this pollutant before 2005. Furthermore, best available techniques for pollution control should have been introduced by the project. After the construction of block 13 and works on units 1-6 Belchatow is now the one of the largest coal power plants in the world with 5298 MWelinstalled capacity and will probably overtake Tuoketuo in China on rank two by end of next year once works on units 7-12 are completed (compare operator's website in Polish: http://www.elbelchatow.pgegiek.pl/index.php/2011/08/04/5053-mw-z-elektrowni-belchatow/).

(3) European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Project Summary Documents Belchatow IIhttp://www.ebrd.com/english/pages/project/psd/2005/25438.shtml; Elektrownia Belchatow SA & ELBIS: Construction of 833 MW power unit at BOT Elektrownia Belchatow S.A. – Summary of the Environmental Impact Statement.http://www.ebrd.com/english/pages/project/eia/25438e.pdf

(4) Annex 8 to Poland's Transitional National Plan, Przejściowy Plan Krajowy, version from 12 December 2013, downloaded from European Commission CIRCABC websitehttp://www.eeb.org/EEB/?LinkServID=FA21693E-5056-B741-DB56BA00D2E0F5AE

(5) In 2013 Belchatow emitted 37 million tons of CO2 compared to around 30 million tons annually between 2007 and 2010. European Commission, DG Climate Action,http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/registry/docs/verified_emissions_2013_en.xls as well as European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/

(6) A 2011 report by the European Environment Agency estimated the external costs of Belchatow, including the external costs of CO2 emissions, at 1.5-2.5 billion Euro per year, making it the highest ranking polluter. European Environment Agency, 2011, Spreadsheet accompanying the report Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe, http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/cost-of-air-pollution

Contacts for media enquiries:

EEB:

Christian Schaible, Senior Policy Officer on Industrial Production, Tel: +32 22 89 10 90, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alison Abrahams, Communications Officer, Tel: +32 2289 13 09, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

HEAL:
Julia Huscher, Senior Coal and Health Officer, Mobile: +32 489 97 74 69, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Climate Action Network Europe:

Vanessa Bulkacz, Communications Manager, Mobile: +32 494 525 738 (on location at the IPCC WGIII venue)

Kathrin Gutmann, Coal Policy Officer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CEE Bankwatch Network:
Kuba Gogolewski, Project Coordinator, CEE Bankwatch Network, Tel: +32 28 93 10 32, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

European Commission gives in to industry demands on support for renewables

European Commission gives in to industry demands on support for renewables

[Brussels, 9 April 2014] - CAN Europe is disappointed with the new rules for energy and environmental state aid, which were adopted by the European Commission today. The new rules set restrictive conditions for renewable energy promoters while allowing far too generous exemptions for industry. With these rules in place, most of the burden of Europe's inevitable low-carbon energy transition will fall on household energy consumers rather than being shared between all players, including industry.


"One of the main concerns of citizens and NGOs is that support for renewable energy producers will now be allocated through a tendering procedure, which creates unfair conditions for smaller producers that are unable to engage in long administrative processes with high investment uncertainty," said Daniel Fraile, senior energy policy officer at CAN Europe. "This lopsided new regime does not create the right conditions for the EU to support small business enterprises and private investors in Europe or, importantly, exploit the EU's vast potential as a world leader in renewable energy."


NGOs also voiced concern that tenders will be technology-neutral, which will diminish incentives to invest in technologies that may be currently more expensive to produce but still offer high long-term potential to reduce carbon emissions. Another NGO concern involves the move away from feed-in-tariffs to feed-in-premiums [1], which will lead unavoidably to increased investor uncertainty and higher capital costs.


Any modernization of state-aid rules should help Europe decarbonize its energy sector in a cost-effective manner and bring forward the environmental, social and geo-political benefits of a low carbon society. However, these new EU rules introduce new roadblocks that favour large scale, incumbent, traditional fossil-fuel based energy producers, instead of removing market barriers to large-scale deployment of renewable energies.


Member States must now adapt their national support systems to be in line with the new rules. CAN Europe encourages EU countries to work toward minimizing the impacts this new regime may cause for renewables deployment. Such care taken at national level will ensure that millions of green jobs remain in Europe and citizens can continue to make personal choices about renewable energy use, placing people, rather than the fossil fuel industry, firmly at the core of the European energy system transformation.


CONTACTS:
Daniel Fraile, CAN Europe Senior Energy Policy Officer, +32 2894 4672
Vanessa Bulkacz, CAN Europe Communications Manager, +32 494 525 738

NOTES:
[1] Premium systems are an evolved version of feed-in-tariff systems with varying degrees of market exposure for producers. Under feed-in-premium schemes, renewable energy producers are obliged to find a seller for their product on the market. More information is available at European Commission guidance for the design of renewables support schemes (http://ec.europa.eu/energy/gas_electricity/doc/com_2013_public_intervention_swd04_en.pdf)
CAN Europe is Europe's largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 120 member organisations in more than 25 European countries, CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.

New analysis ranks Members of European Parliament

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New Analysis Ranks European MEPs and National Parties On Climate Action

Climate heroes and villains revealed

 

[Brussels, 8th April 2014] Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe today launched a new set of 28 scorecards that rank national political parties and MEPs on their climate and energy performance in the European Parliamentary term 2009-14. It cuts through political rhetoric and enables European citizens to see the climate actions that their elected representatives have supported, challenged or ignored. [1] CAN Europe’s analysis is unique in that it examines MEP performance based on votes solely related to climate change and energy.

Launched as MEPs begin campaigning for next month’s European elections, the scorecards provide a ranking of both national political parties and individual MEPs based on ten crucial climate and energy votes that took place during the 2009-2014 parliamentary term [2].

Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe, said:

 “Climate actions speak louder than words and this analysis enables people to see exactly what national political parties and their MEPs have supported during their term in the European Parliament.”

“This tool will allow civil society and individual citizens to both challenge and vote for parties and MEPs who will support the advancement of more ambitious European climate and energy policies for 2030 and beyond.”


The European elections will take place between the 22nd and 25th of May after which a new parliamentary term will begin [3]. Recent changes in EU law have given the European Parliament more power and influence in future EU decision-making processes [4].

The full set of 28 scorecards is available for download at: www.caneurope.org/VoteForClimateAction

Direct download: http://caneurope.org/resources/doc_download/2407-mep-scorecards-complete-collection

Contacts:

Wendel Trio, CAN Europe Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +32 473 170 887

Matthew Keys, CAN Europe Communications Officer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +32 2 894 46 73

Notes:

[1] CAN Europe is not affiliated with and does not endorse any political party. The MEP and party analyses presented in the scorecards are based solely on statistical data. Further information, including background and analysis methodology, is available at: www.caneurope.org/VoteForClimateAction

[2] The votes in question cover proposals to improve the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme, the Mechanism for Monitoring and Reporting emissions, the 2030 renewable energy and energy savings targets, the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reductions target, the 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target, renewable energy policies, energy savings policies, European support for the international climate negotiations, the integration of climate change in EU development policies and provision of international climate finance.

[3] Official 2014 EU election site: http://www.elections2014.eu/en

[4] These changes includes greater influence over the leadership and composition of the next European Commission as well as the future of climate and energy policies in Europe.

UN body lays out stark future under extreme climate change

Solutions exist but world leaders must act now to avert the worst effects

[Brussels, Yokohama – UNDER EMBARGO UNTIL IPCC press conference starts in Yokohama, currently scheduled for 02:00 CET 31st March 2014/9:00 Japan time 31st March 2014] EU leaders have been handed a warning by the world's leading climate scientists that our society is vastly underprepared to deal with the risks posed by unavoidable climate change impacts. The second installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)'s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5, Working Group II) was released in Yokohama today [1]. It highlights how climate change is already negatively affecting the oceans and every continent, including Europe. The report also points out that delayed climate action will cost more and be less effective. As CAN Europe's recent report This is Climate Change in Europe shows, Europe is not immune from these effects.

"Any false sense that climate change will not touch Europe is dispelled in this report," said Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe. "Climate change is happening here and now, in Europe too, and it will only get worse without strong climate action. The EU must step up climate efforts immediately by increasing its emissions reductions, renewable energy share and energy efficiency targets for 2030."

The IPCC has conservatively estimated the cost to adapt in the developing world alone to be more than 60 billion euros each year – a figure that does not consider the loss of those things without monetary value, such as culture, lives and biodiversity. Impacts in Europe under all future climate change scenarios will include coastal and river flooding, regional tourism declines, drought, food insecurity, "megafires," rainfall loss, decline in forest value, ocean warming, widespread biodiversity loss and more.

"Climate change is already driving hunger, but without urgent global leadership by EU governments to radically curb emissions at home, disasters will only increase in size and severity – and Europe will not be spared," said Natalia Alonso, Oxfam's Head of EU Office. "Increased floods and droughts in Europe will continue to affect local harvests. In addition, over 70% of EU-imported food comes from developing countries, many of which are at great risk of climate impacts."

The risk of exacerbating climate impacts to a catastrophic level is too great to impose upon the people and nature of Europe. But solutions exist, including investing into renewable energies, an area where Europe already excels. Taking stronger climate action now would deliver important benefits for communities, economies and the environments they depend on. The vast majority of Europeans recognize climate change as a threat to our future [2]. Our leaders must respond to their calls for real climate solutions.

[Ends]

Contacts:

Vanessa Bulkacz, CAN Europe Communications Manager, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +32 494 525 738

Wendel Trio, CAN Europe Director, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +32 473 170 887

Àngela Corbalán, EU Head of Communications, Oxfam EU Advocacy Office, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , +32 2 234 11 15

**Photos of people on the front lines of climate change are available for media use. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if interested in obtaining these files. **

Editor's Notes:

[1] The IPCC press conference releasing the Summary for Policy Makers for Working Group II is schedule for Monday 31st March, 2014 at 02:00 CET (09:00 in Japan) and will be rebroadcast here: www.ipcc.ch/webcast

[2] A recent Eurobarometer survey shows 9 out of 10 Europeans recognize climate change as a "very serious" or "serious" threat and that 4 out of 5 agree that fighting climate change can boost the economy and jobs in Europe. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-14-201_en.htm

NEXT STEPS: The third installment of the IPCC's fifth assessment report (Working Group III, mitigation) is scheduled for release in Berlin on April 13th, focusing on the science behind reducing carbon pollution. The Working Group II and III reports – which are signed off by world governments – come just six months before the UN Secretary General's climate summit at which leaders must commit to immediately increasing climate action in order to pave the way for the new international climate treaty due in 2015.

EU leaders risk planetary emergency by delaying climate decisions

EU must get its climate priorities in order before UN climate leaders summit in September

[21 March 2014 – For immediate release] – CAN Europe [1] is shocked that EU Heads of State failed today to recognise the urgency of the climate crisis, just ahead of the release of a new IPCC scientific report warning that climate impacts are much more severe than previously thought. [2]

Our leaders ignored the increasing impacts of climate change, both in Europe and abroad, and failed to reinvigorate the EU's role in shaping global climate solutions ahead of September's climate summit convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon [3]. EU leaders today should have taken a stronger stand in calling for the 2030 EU climate and energy package to be ambitious enough to keep global warming below 2ºC and stop the spiraling effects of climate change on people and the economy.

"It is beyond belief that the EU has delayed a decision on urgent climate action. After all, discussions have been ongoing for months already while climate impacts continue to mount across Europe," said Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe. "With freak weather events already creating massive economic fallout and disrupting lives all over Europe, our leaders need to pick up the pace on climate action, not kick decisions down the road. After the worst pollution in decades gripped several EU capitals earlier this month, our leaders should be pushing harder than ever for quick climate action and the health benefits it would bring to Europeans."

"Climate change is already driving hunger, but without urgent global leadership by EU governments to radically curb emissions at home, disasters will only increase in size and severity – and Europe will not be spared," said Natalia Alonso, Oxfam's Head of EU Office. "Increased floods and droughts in Europe will continue to affect local harvests. In addition, over 70% of EU-imported food comes from developing countries, many of which are at great risk of climate impacts."


The 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030, proposed by the European Commission, is barely more than business-as-usual and not enough to confidently keep us below 2ºC of global warming, the recognized threshold for dangerous climate change, which has been a cornerstone of EU climate policy since 1996. [4] Though EU leaders called today for more action to address the EU's energy security in the context of the crisis in Ukraine, they ignored the vast untapped energy potential of binding national targets for energy efficiency and renewable energy.


A recent Eurobarometer survey shows 9 out of 10 Europeans recognize climate change as a "very serious" or "serious" threat and that 4 out of 5 agree that fighting climate change can boost the economy and jobs in Europe. Our Heads of State simply cannot keep ignoring the demands of the people and forward-looking businesses. We call on European leaders to take ambitious decisions on 2030 climate action that will avoid catastrophic climate change, well in time for the EU to retake its leadership role at the UN climate summit in September.


[ENDS]

PHOTOS: In January, in front of the Berlaymont building in Brussels, NGOs sent a Climate SOS to European leaders to put the EU's climate policy back on course. Photos from the NGO action are available for download from CAN Europe's Flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/caneurope/12088566056/in/set-72157640044492355/

CONTACTS:
Wendel Trio, CAN Europe's Director, +32 473 170 887
Vanessa Bulkacz, CAN Europe Communications Manager, +32 494 525 738
Angela Corbalan, Oxfam's EU Head of Communications, + 32 (0) 473 56 22 60

EDITORS NOTES:
1- Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is a coalition of more than 120 NGOs in over 25 European countries working to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.
2- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is releasing its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on climate change in four installments during 2013 and 2014. It will release the summary of the second installment for Working Group II (Climate Impacts) next week. Leaked copies of the draft document show climate impacts can now be found on every continent of the world and that people everywhere are vulnerable to these effects.. http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/
3- As part of a global effort to mobilize action and ambition on climate change, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is inviting Heads of State and Government along with business, finance, civil society and local leaders to a Climate Summit in September 2014, New York. This Summit is aimed at catalyzing action by governments, business, finance, industry, and civil society in areas for new commitments and substantial, scalable and replicable contributions to the Summit that will help the world shift toward a low-carbon economy. http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit2014/
4- A -40% GHG target is based on IPCC's 2007 report, which assumed both a peak in global emissions by 2015 and for global emissions to drop to 44 GtCO2-e by 2020. UNEP estimates emissions to be at 52 GtCO2-e at best. Therefore, to stay below 2 degrees, UNEP recommends more ambitious pathways post 2020, in line with the upper end of the EU target to reduce emissions by 80-95% by 2050. A -40% by 2030 target would put the EU on a pathway to only -80% by 2050.
CAN Europe briefings analysing the European Commission's 2030 climate and energy policy framework proposal can be found on our website: http://www.caneurope.org/resources/latest-publications/690-eu-2030-briefings

CAN Europe is calling for binding targets of at least 55% emission reductions, 45% renewable energy and 40% energy savings. CAN Europe's position on the 2030 framework proposal can be found here: http://caneurope.org/resources/publications/position-papers/doc_download/2313-post-2020-eu-climate-and-energy-targets-numbers-nov-2013

Foreign Affairs Ministers fail to raise the game on EU climate ambition

All eyes now turn to EU heads of State and Government

[18 March 2014 – For immediate release] – CAN Europe [1] is disheartened that EU Foreign Affairs Ministers at the General Affairs Council today neither recognised the urgency of the climate crisis nor reinforced the EU's important role in shaping solutions via the international climate negotiations. Ministers missed the opportunity to give more weight to the increasing impacts of climate change, both in Europe and abroad, and the potentially catastrophic effects it will create for international security. With rumours circulating that EU leaders may postpone a decision the proposed EU climate and energy package later this week, Ministers today should have taken a stronger stand in calling for the package to be ambitious enough to address the climate crisis and in pushing it forward.

"We find it impossible to believe the EU would delay a decision on this package. After all, discussions have been ongoing for months already while climate impacts continue to mount across Europe," said Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network Europe. "We completely agree with those Ministers of the Green Growth Group who spoke out that a decision must be made this month." [2]

"The ambition of this proposal must also be raised across the board," Trio continued. "A 40% greenhouse gas emission reduction target is just business-as-usual and not enough to keep us below 2 degrees of global warming, which has been a cornerstone of EU climate policy since 1996. Similarly, much more can be done than what the Commission has proposed on renewable energy and energy efficiency. Both are essential elements for further development of Europe's green economy." [3]

Read more: Foreign Affairs Ministers fail to raise the game on EU climate ambition

Media contact

   Vanessa Bulkacz
   Communications Manager
   Direct line: +32 2894 4675
   Email: vanessa/at/caneurope.org

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