Environment 1 December, 2017 11:00 am   
COMMENTS: Mateusz Gibała

Poland is interested in fighting smog

In order to effectively fighting smog, appropriate adjustments are needed. It is necessary to involve the government – said Andrzej Guła, President of Polish Smog Alarm in conversation with How can the latest government declarations and actions on fighting smog be assessed? Is removing the so-called chimneys from the market a good step?

Andrzej Guła: Cooperation between government administration and local governments is the key issue. This cooperation has been lacking for many years. The problem of smog will not be solved at the local or regional level. There is a need for government involvement. As long as the government does not take key reforms for clean air, we will not solve the problem of smog in Poland.

At the moment there is a breakthrough. Indeed, the Ministry of Development is taking a very active steps towards regulating key issues such as boiler emission standards, coal quality standards, and the introduction of regulations that will enable cities to successfully fight traffic pollution. These are the regulations without which one cannot effectively solve the problem of smog.

How does it look like today?

So far, we have been dealing with a pathological situation in which, on the one hand, at the local, provincial level, we encouraged people to exchange old coal boilers, which are often called “chimneys” or “dusters”. On the other hand, Polish law has allowed for placing boilers on the market that do not meet even the minimum emission standards. These boilers, which are being released today to Polish homes, will be used for 15-20 years. For all these years, we are increasing the problem of poor air quality.

At the moment we are waiting for a very important amendment to the Act on Control and Monitoring of Fuel Quality. It will allow to determine the quality parameters of coal, without which we can not deal with low emission, i.e. the main source of air pollution in Poland. For years, experts and the Supreme Chamber of Control have appealed for minimum parameters for ash, sulfur and moisture content in coal. Such regulations are missing. If you go to a petrol station, you can be sure that you buy fuel that meets the quality standards. Meanwhile, when Mr. Smith goes to the coal stock, he cannot be certain what quality fuel he buys. He buys a pig in a poke. It has to change. We want regulations and controls to be binding on the solid fuel market, as it is in the liquid fuel market. If an entrepreneur who runs a station deceives and pours something into the fuel, he faces a penalty of up to PLN 500 thousand or up to five years imprisonment.

When can the new regulations appear?

The signal that came out of the government is pretty clear and readable. We will of course settle the government from completion of this task. The act on the control and monitoring of fuel quality in the field of carbon quality standards is absolutely necessary. I hope that in the coming weeks the act will be passed by the government to the parliament. I would like to believe that after many years this segment of the market will be regulated.

Will the issue of smog affect the course of the local government election campaign?

I think that in the voivodships of southern Poland and in Mazovia, this issue will be one of the most important during the local government campaign. Politicians now see that the society demands clean air. That is why we are watching the increased interest of politicians in the subject of anti-smog actions.

Interview by Wojciech Jakóbik