According to the latest assessments of the World Health Organisation (WHO), of the 50 most polluted cities in Europe, 36 are situated in Poland. What are the causes of the problems with smog in Europe? InnoEnergy is trying to answer that question along with Deloitte with the report Clean Air Challenge, which is to be released in October in Brussels. The aim of report is meant to encourage business people and innovators to share solutions that help combat low emissions.
Marcin Lewenstein, Thematic Leader, InnoEnergy, said:
“We realise that it is above all transport and heating that are responsible for problems related to smog in our cities. As an investor, InnoEnergy finances the development of technology, business models and solutions that may meet the challenges of energy transformation."
Notable causes of smog in Poland
InnoEnergy and Deloitte found six main causes of smog in Poland. These are: the lack of rules concerning the sale of solid fuels for heating purposes, a transport policy that favours individual vehicle transport, weak enforcement of fines and punishments for burning waste or excessive emissions in transport, insufficient incentives to change heating furnaces, insufficient indicator databases and cross-sectional analyses, low social capital and lack of awareness. Due to this neglect, Poland has, along with Bulgaria, the greatest problem with low emissions in Europe. However, this does not mean that other countries do not share the problem.
Irena Pichola of Deloitte, said:
“Germany and Italy are also facing similar challenges. Germany is focussing much more on the issue of transport than on that of heating. However, northern Italy has similar challenges to most Polish cities.” Irena is the leader of the team devoted to sustainable development in Poland and Central Europe
Artur Michalski, vice-president at the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, said:
“I regret, however, that regional operational programmes still allow one to obtain co-financing for the purchase of buses with a diesel engine."
He also has emphasised that in aiming for clean air, a considerable effect is achieved by connecting households to heating networks. He also added that where it is possible, the NFEPWM intends to invest in geothermal energy.
The effectiveness of connecting to heating networks was also noted by Tomasz Kosiński, office director at the Polish Electrical Energy Committee. “This is the best method of combatting low emissions,” he assessed. Meanwhile, the mayor of Tarnowskie Góry, Arkadiusz Czech, drew attention to the necessity of educating local communities. Tarnowskie Góry has decided that instead of stigmatising those residents who contribute to the creation of smog, it will praise those who take best care of the air. “We would like to achieve a psychological effect in this manner,” said the mayor of Tarnowskie Góry.
It is important that the discussion on smog in public spaces has become more intense over the last two years. A significant difference is that earlier this problem was talked about from October to March, but now it is a problem all year round. Luckily, people’s awareness is increasing. Irena Pichola also agrees with such a diagnosis; from her perspective of over 15 years working with the issue of sustainable development, she assesses that more is being said and done on the necessity of measures to improve air quality than before. She mentioned a survey by the Centre for Public Opinon Research (CBOS), according to which 44 % of Poles consider smog to be a problem in their place of residence, while 19 % of Poles perceive smog to be a very serious problem.