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Poland to sign climate deals if EU backs new coal plants

Warsaw — * Poland building 5.8 GW of new mostly coal plant
* Warsaw seeking free EUAs for new plant

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Poland is ready to support the EU's ratification of the Paris and Doha climate agreements if Brussels is willing to back new coal plant construction by issuing free CO2 emission allowances, the Prime Minister's Office said late Monday.

"The Ministry of Environment is starting the procedure of ratifying the international climate change agreements: the Paris Agreement and the Doha Amendment. Ratification will be possible on condition that Poland's interests in the field of European climate policy are secured," the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.

The government said Poland supports the quick ratification of the Paris Agreement but the country "faces the need to build new power units" and that indigenous coal remains the basis for Polish energy security. The PM's Office said new coal plant would not be profitable if CO2 emission allowance (EUAs) prices rose in future.

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"The construction of new coal-fired power units requires investment profitability guarantees, which are influenced by the need to acquire CO2 emission allowances -- probably at high prices," the statement said. "That's why the basis of Polish policy is guaranteed free allowances for Polish energy companies," the statement added.

Polish utilities are currently building or tendering for 5.8 GW of new, mostly hard coal or lignite-fired generation capacity. Despite this, Polish generators will not be able to meet peak power demand by the beginning of the next decade and Poland will need to increase electricity imports and reduce demand, the transmission system operator PSE said in a May report.

The PM's Office said the ratification of the Doha Amendment would mean issuing Poland AAUs for the second period of the Kyoto Protocol (2013-20) as well as transferring unused AAUs from the first period (2008-12).

"As part of the negotiations with the European Commission, Poland wants to make the ratification of the Doha Amendment dependent on gaining guarantees for financing new coal-fired power investments," the PM's Office said.

In October last year Poland vetoed the 2012 Doha Amendment, which extends the Kyoto Protocol until 2020, saying it needed more time to assess its impact on the Polish economy. The EU requires the unanimous backing of all member states to ratify the Paris and Doha agreements.

--Adam Easton,