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Krakow boasts record decrease in air pollution levels

Krakow boasts record decrease in air pollution levels

But Polish cities need to accelerate their action for clean air, shows a recent report

Krakow reports that it managed to reduce the concentration of winter dust by half over the last seven years. One of the reasons for this success is the number of solid fuel-burning boilers replaced, which is the highest in the entire Lesser Poland province, informed the authorities last week.

These findings are based on a report by social movement Polski Alarm Smogowy (Polish Smog Alarm, which originates precisely from Krakow), showing that the second-largest Polish city is at the forefront in the fight against smog. However, there is a long way to go for Polish cities, the report also shows.

Phasing out solid fuels is only one step to cleaner air

The Polish Smog Alarm (PAS) checked how the replacement of coal furnaces in provincial cities and towns most affected by smog goes. Their analysis shows that the pace of replacement of these installations is not satisfactory in Poland, which has the most polluted air in Europe.

To get these results, the authors of the report asked cities about the number of kotły (a central heating device for burning solid fuels) replaced in 2019, but only half of the voivodeship cities appear to have such information. Respectively, a record-high number of boilers was replaced in Kraków (4,188), where coal and wood burning is prohibited from September 2019. Wrocław came second (1442), and Katowice came third (1213).

Only in the years 2012–2019, when the replacement of boilers was intensive, Krakow allocated over PLN 330 million (72 million euros) for the purpose, summarise the authorities. The city would like to continue the program of thermal modernization of single-family buildings next year and the provision of subsidies for heating bills.

Another challenge facing Krakow is resolving the issue of car pollution and the city is in talks with the Ministry of Climate about the amendment to the act on electromobility and clean transport zones. Air protection programs, with very intensive implementation, usually last around 10 years, so if Krakow completes the program on traffic emissions and resolves the difficulties related to central regulations, it will be a leader in this matter.

Another finding of the report is that, compared to last year, the number of boiler replacements has not improved significantly. “Without involvement in anti-smog activities at every level, we will wait many more years before the air in Poland begins to meet the standards. We should also remember that due to breathing polluted air each year 46,000 citizens die prematurely”, Andrzej Guła from Polish Smog Alarm warned, quoted by biznesalert.pl.

Finally, in communes and cities replacing boilers occurred mainly with local subsidy programs and not the government's programme for clean air, which proves not sufficiently familiar and popular with citizens, despite often offering higher subsidies, conclude from PAS.

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