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Why is there smog in Poland – press info

Why is there smog in Poland?

Press info before the meeting of the Governmental Economy Committee (KERM) – 17 January 2017 prepared by the Vice President of the Institute of Environmental Economics, explaining why renovation of buildings is necessary and why, when it comes to fighting smog in Poland, this meeting might be crucial (coordination of different Ministries’ actions is needed).

In Poland we have smog because the problems of single-family houses have been consistently unnoticed by consecutive governments.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017 the Governmental Economy Committee (KERM) on request of Prime Minister Beata Szydło is to focus on smog. Will the government use the possibility to develop an ambitious program for renovation of polish buildings?

Leading expert organisations in the field of energy efficiency, branch societies and universities gathered around Efficient Poland (EP) Initiative have sent a letter to the Prime Minister Beata Szydło and Deputy Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki with the draft version of the National Program for Buildings Renovation (NPBR) which should be an important supplement to the program “Clean Air” declared last week by Deputy Prime Minister Morawiecki. The suggestion by EP focuses on the necessity to develop by the polish government a program supporting renovation of single-family houses. Implementation of such a program involves cooperation between many Ministries and a real integration of activities related with buildings, environment and economy growth. The challenges linked with single-family buildings have been consistently neglected by consecutive governments and this is one of the obvious answers to the question why we have smog in Poland!

We have smog in Poland because we have obsolete boilers and stoves that use dirty fuel and the resulting heat leaks through the “holes” in the walls.

Renovation of single-family houses is crucial in the anti-smog actions because:

  1. Polish winter smog results from burning waste, coal waste and coal of a very low quality, especially in single-family houses;
  2. Legislative actions must lead to exchange of heat sources – this means the modernization of heating systems in a few millions of Polish houses;
  3. Exchange of heat source and modernization of the heating system in old and badly insulated houses is inefficient as it leads to purchase of too big a boiler, increase in heat costs and “lock-in” effect disabling the increase in comfort of life. Therefore, exchange of heat source and renovation of building should be performed simultaneously;
  4. As experience from the Czech Republic and Germany shows, a well developed, ambitious program for renovation of buildings will bring benefits e.g. new jobs, higher budget income and last but not least it may be the force stimulating the growth within the construction and insulation sectors.

Polish government does not have to develop everything from the scratch, some tools needed for anti-smog action already exist though, they are not used and the responsibility is distributed between different Ministries (as a result no one is responsible for solving the issue). The integration of scattered actions needs determination – therefore, it is good that the issue has drawn attention of the Prime Minister Beata Szydło. Examples of a few defeats that can be solved by the Government:

Polish Government (precisely the Ministry of Infrastructure and Buildings) is currently working on the Strategy for renovation of buildings, that has to be presented to the European Commission in April. This document that will determine actions of Polish Government in the buildings sector for the next three years (until 2020). The previous document, prepared in 2014, was assessed as one of the worst in the European Union and it is not surprising as it did not include any actions aimed at renovation of single-family buildings and it did not link the topic with the problem of air pollution (and the link is obvious). A good preparation of Strategy for buildings renovation and presenting it to the EC will enable the flow of funds needed for renovation of polish cities (both the big ones such as Warsaw but also the smaller like Rabka) and the fight with smog. The program suggested by EP Initiative is a good starting point.

The solving of the problem requires cooperation not only with the Ministry of Infrastructure. National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, under the responsibility of Ministry of the Environment, has not opened so far any program that would replace Ryś program (started at the beginning of 2015 as a pilot program and shut down for incomprehensible reasons just after the change of power took place). The works on a new support scheme for single-family buildings are still not finished and a year just went by.

Without the program for buildings renovation smog will still be haunting Poland for consecutive toxic and dirty years or the costs of heating will rise dramatically (smog will eat the wallets of Poles).


Efektywna Polska
Address: ul. Felicjanek 10/6, Kraków, Polska
Telephone: +48 12 222 50 11


The Initiative is Efficient Poland is National Supporting Partner for the Renovate Europe Campaign
Renovate Europe