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First-ever anti-smog bill in Poland signed by President

Good news as the President of Poland Andrzej Duda (right) signs the first ever Polish anti-smog bill, allowing local governments to adopt their own local air quality regulations.

The President’s signature marks a success for Polish organisations urging him to act on the poor air quality situation in the country.

HEAL in Poland supported a recent appeal to the President, encouraging individuals to sign on via HEAL’s social media and communication channels. The appeal, organised by Krakowski Alarm Smogowy (Kraków Smog Alert) and NGO Akcja Demokracja (Action Democracy) received thousands of signatures within just a couple of days. Then representatives of NGOs publicly handed it to the President.

The bill will allow local governments to adopt their own local air quality regulations, set up parameters of the stoves allowed to be used in the in particular areas and set up parameters of fuels, including coal. From the angle of air quality, the bill relates to low stack emissions, one of the main sources of air pollution in Poland. These new measures should help to reduce harmful emissions, contributing to air pollution that kills over 40,000 people living in Poland every year.

This is not the first time attempt of NGOs and local government to introduce a regulation against low stack emission in Poland. In 2013, the local government of Małopolska region introduced a total ban on burning coal in Krakow from 2018. However, on 25 September the Supreme Administrative Court rejected a cassation appeal against the judgment terminating the anti-smog resolution by the Malopolska Regional Assembly, which previously has been contested by two citizens of Krakow. With the new regulations, introducing a local coal ban would be in accordance with the law all around the country.

The bill already caused some controversy, mainly within the coal sector with fears of the decline in retail sales of fuel for domestic heating. Yet, the President argues that the new regulation will give the opportunity to develop modern technologies in the mining industry.

Now HEAL’s role is to continue pressure on local governments to implement the laws in their areas.

The story of the bill has been widely described in the media:

Photo courtesy of Piotr Drabik, Flickr Creative Commons

Originally posted on 16 October 2015

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