Poland is too slow in improving air quality and if efforts continue at their current slow pace, improvement will come in decades at best, with some areas standing to benefit in a century from now, a report by the state’s audit body NIK said on September 11.
Poland’s air is among the most polluted in the European Union. The main source of pollution is heating in the cold season, as people often use low quality coal or litter for heating. Poverty plays a role in that to an extent, but poor awareness of environmental effects of such practices is also to blame.
Car traffic is another cause of smog, with only some Polish cities taking steps to limit entry of vehicles downtown and revamp infrastructure to encourage use of public transit.
The government has pledged to step up fight against air pollution after smog became a topic of national debate a couple of years ago. The administration announced a PLN100bn (€23.2bn) programme to clean up air earlier this year but efforts have been slow and compromised by the coal lobby, NIK said.
“The energy ministry’s proposal regarding quality standards for solid fuels secures to a much greater extent the interests of the coal lobby, than striving to protect Poles and the environment from the negative effects of air pollution,” NIK said in the report.
NIK titled the report sarcastically “Take care of your health – do not breathe”. Dirty air has been estimated to cause as many 44,000 premature deaths in Poland, according to the European Environment Agency.