Polish Briefing 24 June, 2019 10:00 am   
COMMENTS: Mateusz Gibała

Polish Briefing: The Clean Air Program in its present form is doomed to failure

What goes on in Poland on the 24th of June.

Guła: The Clean Air Program in its present form is doomed to failure

Andrzej Guła from the Polish Smog Alarm criticizes the lack of progress of the Clean Air program.

– A letter from the European Commission has just been sent to Polish ministers and it expresses concern about the lack of progress in the implementation of the Clean Air Program. When this program was announced in October 2018, Prime Minister Morawiecki said that this is another fulfilled promise of the government, which will lead to a civilizational breakthrough. Under the ten-year program, the government planned to install modern heating devices and increase the energy efficiency of four million homes, allocating over PLN 100 billion for this purpose. The assumptions of the program were right, because heating single-family houses is the main source of Polish smog – says Guła to

– After eight months of Clean Air operation, only 15,000 contracts were signed. This is a drop in the ocean of needs, especially since one-third of the subsidy falls on support for newly built homes, not the replacement of old coal-fired boilers in existing buildings. European Commission experts are alarming that in its current form the program is doomed to failure and cannot count on the support of EU funds. It is necessary to fundamentally reform it by simplifying application procedures and building an efficient system of service for beneficiaries. For such a reform, the Smog Alert has been working for many months – says Guła. – Commercial banks, which have much greater opportunities to reach households than 16 provincial environmental protection funds entrusted with the distribution of Clean Air resources, should be included in the program, similarly to 500+. Banks that are much closer to the beneficiary can ensure quick payment of subsidies, but also complement the financing of thermo-modernization investments, such as in the case of loans for household solar panels offered by the PKO BP bank as a supplement to the tax credit effective from the beginning of the year.

– According to the statements of the Minister of Environment, the government does not intend to look at the recommendations of the European Commission. Such an attitude may lead to the fact that Poland will lose the chance of obtaining multibillion aid from European funds to improve air quality. For now, the European Commission has given the government time until June 21 to make decisions on the reform of Clean Air. I would like to believe that there will be reflection on the part of the government and the need for change will be noticed. For now, the ministry is convincing us that everything is in the best order and we should enjoy fifteen thousand contracts signed – concluded Guła.