Polish government’s failure to transpose the CCS directive locks in emissions

PGE Opole Power Plant

Publish date: February 25, 2013

“Unless the Commission enforces timely transposition of the CO2 Capture and Storage (CCS) directive in all Member States and provides guidance to the interpretation of the ‘CCS – readiness’ article of the CCS Directive, there is a risk of new coal-fired power plants being built across the EU without real plans and conditions for CCS retrofit, locking in huge CO2 emissions for several decades,” says Paal Frisvold, Chairman of Bellona Europa.

Polish NGO complaint rejected

The Regional Administrative Court (RAC) in Warsaw has issued a judgment on 19 February in which it rejected a formal complaint regarding the construction of two new units at Opole Power Plant, Polish infrastructure news portal reported.

ClientEarth, the non-profit environmental law organization and author of the complaint, participated in the process of environmental impact assessment related to the project of expanding the power plant in Opole. They found out that despite the project’s great environmental impact sufficient technologies will not be applied. The annual CO2 emissions of the two new 900 MW units at Opole Power Plant would reach more than 9 million tons. The CCS Directive requires that in such large coal-fired power plants, a feasibility assessment of the system for CCS is completed before the operating licence is granted.

Bellona is concerned about the Polish government’s reluctance to fully transpose the CCS directive. “This failure has the potential to be very embarrassing for Poland given that it will host the upcoming COP19 international climate talks,” Paal Frisvold says.



Article 33. 1 of the CCS directive, which has not yet been transposed into Polish law, states that:

Member States shall ensure that operators of all combustion plants with a rated electrical output of 300 megawatts or more […] have assessed whether the follow­ing conditions are met;

– suitable storage sites are available;  

– transport facilities are technically and economically feasible;

–  it is technically and economically feasible to retrofit for CO2 capture.

“Today’s judgment confirms that the negligence committed by the government by failing to adjust Polish legislation to the European environmental law in time could have disastrous consequences for the environment and the health of the Poles,” said Robert Rybski, Climate and energy lawyer at ClientEarth in a statement on 19 February.

ClientEarth announces that it will take further steps in order to ensure that the expansion of the Opole Power Plant fulfils the requirements by law with regard to the protection of health and the environment. The organisation applied for a written justification of the judgement.

Government’s delay in transposition of the CCS directive

The deadline for transposition of the CCS directive into Polish law passed on 25 June 2011. Draft amendments to the Polish Geological and Mining Law and other relevant laws have been adopted by the Council of Ministers in March 2011, after two years of inter-service and public consultations. The draft law was open for public consultations from August till September 2012 and from 2 January 2013 it is on the Council of Ministers’ work agenda.

However, Poland intends to limit the application of its CCS legislation to the demonstration phase of CCS. Following a recommendation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Minister of Environment Marcin Korolec submitted a formal request to the European Commission in December 2012 to assess the possibility to limit the obligation resulting from application of CCS directive till 2026 only. The draft Polish law provides for such an application limit and concerns only the demonstration phase of the storage activities.  

bodytextimage_05-06_Paal_Frisvold_NB-7.jpg Photo: Foto: Bellona


Speaking after the Energy Council of 22 February, Minister Korolec said that the EU should abandon costly climate policy which results in higher energy prices for consumers. Korolec also believes that CCS has no chance to be deployed on commercial scale. He added that the current rules are designed in a way that the heads of companies cannot choose to apply CCS, if the state does not guarantee to cover future losses.


Read the Bellona CCS Roadmap for Poland here.