Poland's clean air policy will bring effects over decade: minister

Minister Emilewicz speaking at the Katowice-held COP24 summit. Photo: PAP/Hanna Bardo

Ten years of “hard solid work” are needed in order to see the effects of the anti-pollution measures currently being put into effect by the present government before any effects will be seen, the Enterprise and Technology Minister told the C0P24 Forum in Katowice, Southern Poland.

The plans Minister Emilewicz has in mind are the building of wind turbines in the Baltic Sea, the development of photovoltaic solar energy farms and the use of geothermal energy. She also said her ministry was “intensively working on legislation” to support “those who develop energy sources for their own needs- home owners, housing co-op management, and local governments which build energy clusters.”

On Saturday morning the smog detectors in southern Warsaw picked up particle pollution at 400 percent of permissible levels and recommended locals not to cycle, play or air their houses by opening windows. Areas such as Lower Silesia and Małopolska in the South of the country regularly appear in WHO rankings of the worst areas for smog in the world.

Poland has invested in technology to monitor local pollution levels in the past few years, in an attempt to tackle the problem of poor air quality, which is often the result of burning low-quality solid fuel in inefficient burners, in areas without access to gas supplies or city heating.

With recent legislation, the government has given a series of tax incentives to households to improve insulation and replace old heating installations with more energy-efficient boilers.

In choosing a period of 10 years, Mrs Emilewicz made reference to how the UK dealt with its great smog in the 1950’s, when thousands died as a result of low-lying emissions from industry and coal-fired boilers.

Poland was still 100 percent dependent on coal for electricity generation in 1989 which has now reduced to 80 percent, according to the Statistics Office figures Ms Emilewicz quoted at the forum. However, there is now heightened public awareness regarding the air quality in Poland and hence greater public pressure to improve the air quality as fast as possible.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, known as COP24, is being held in Katowice until December 14.