CommerzBank k is the main stockholder of the Polish bank mBank, which is financially involved in the biggest Polish coal companies, e.g. Enea, PGE, ZE PAK.
Polish energy companies want to build more than 10GW of power plant capacity –3.2GW is already under construction. Currently, the biggest planned power plant in Poland is Ostroleka C (1,000 MW) and one of its main investor is Enea. Specialists indicate its negative impact on public health, environment and economy. According to independent experts1, during its expected 40-year operation, Ostroleka C may contribute to 2,000 premature deaths. The investment will also have negative impact on nature – its zone of influence will cover two Nature 2000 areas and indirect impact will reach Puszcza Biala2. Further, according to two studies3, the project is financially irrational and its cost has been grossly underestimated. It is also facing major regulatory problems.
Meanwhile, other Polish power companies funded by mBank – PGE and ZE PAK – plan to build new open pits in Poland – such investments are very controversial and they face local inhabitants’ protests. One of these projects, Zloczew mine, is quite advanced now.
CommerzBank, according to its declarations, implements the strategy of sustainable development, taking into account the recommendations and resolutions of United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Accord, however being a shareholder of mBank, still does not feel obliged to greater interest and responsibility for actions of it`s subsidiary and taking no action ensuring that mBank stops financing the Polish coal sector and infrastructure.
These are the main reasons why environmentalists are very concerned and took part in the General Assembly of Stockholders of CommerzBank (8 maj 2018) to call on the bank to improve its climate policies and to stop funding companies which plan new coal-based projects, also through their subsidiary.
CommerzBank referred to trade secrets and did not answer to questions about coal investments. CommerzBank upheld last year’s statement that mBank is considerd as an independent company that has autonomy in managing the bank. CommerzBank did not declare any action aimed at influencing mBank to implement a carbon-free environmental strategy, only observation of the mBank case.
– In the state with the highest level of air polution in the European Union, the society will be exposed to even more contamination. Unfortunatelly, some banks and financial institutions still co-fund or service funding of such investments and mBank is one of them – explains Radosław Gawlik, President of the Ecological Association EKO-UNIA and anti-smog activist.
– If CommerzBank wants to support pro-health and environment-friendly activities, it should consistently stop granting, also through their subsidiary, new loans to coal companies or signing agreements concerning issue of bonds by coal companies. It should also implement principles and requirements concerning environment and climate protection for it’s whole capital group. We hope that CommerzBank won’t fund Ostrołęka power plant in Poland, or Energa and Enea which have created this project – Katarzyna Kubiczek stressed.
Katarzyna Kubiczek, Ecological Association Eko-Unia
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Joanna Kubicka, Ecological Association Eko-Unia
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Christina Beberdick, Urgewald
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1 „Research on the health impact of the planned Ostrołęka C”, Łukasz Adamkiewicz