Poland tackles air pollution at COP24

The Polish government hopes its Clean Air programme will contribute to a significant reduction in energy use and CO2 emissions. At the COP24 Climate Summit in Katowice (southern Poland), financing was announced for building thermomodernisation from Jan. 2019.

Opening a series of events at the Polish pavilion under the banner 'Activities, financing, technology for clean air', Environment Minister Henryk Kowalczyk stressed that the fight against smog is so closely related to climate policy that, within its framework, cuts are planned in the use of energy for heating.

The first priority for improving air quality is reduced emissions from single-family homes where coal and, often, trash is burned, the minister highlighted. Thanks to improvements in energy saving, emissions from the production of heat energy can be cut by half, or by 17 million tonnes of CO2, Kowalczyk asserted.

"Such an annual reduction is at least the same, or even more, than the results of all the activities of NFOŚ (the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management - PAP) since 1989," the fund's deputy president, Artur Michalski, declared.

Kowalczyk added that the programme has a 10-year scope and that air quality will not improve overnight, or even over a year. "But in 10 years' time we will be able to say that we live in an environment that does not produce threats of disease and early death," he stated.

Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology Jadwiga Emilewicz added that "from January we will be able to start financing thermomodernisation of single-family homes," starting with the Polish towns on the EU's list of the 50 most polluted. First in line will be cities of over 100,000 residents, because that is where most people live in single-family homes, the minister explained. "Although many Poles live in single-family homes, it is not at all evidence of their social status," she pointed out, noting that many of them failed to meet efficiency norms.

Emilewicz also emphasised the importance of education, explaining that Poland's right-wing government treats the fight against air pollution as a priority because it involves "care for people". In the entrepreneurship minister's view, many years' of activity of "leftist circles" have not yielded results because "abstract notions removed from people" were employed.