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Poland Launches "Clean Air" Program

The World Health Organization says that 33 out of Europe’s 50 most polluted cities are in Poland, including Krakow and cities in the southern Silesia coal mining region.  Air pollution is highest in winter when individual households use cheap coal and fuels or even trash for heating.  Authorities release air quality reports for most cities, and some Poles wear masks when the level is high.  Up to 48,000 deaths each year in Poland are attributed to ailments due to poor air quality. 

In February, the European Union’s Court of Justice said that from 2007 to 2015 Poland broke EU law by exceeding the bloc’s air pollution limit and urged the government to speed up efforts to improve air quality.  Improvement of air quality has become one of the Polish government’s priorities.   The “Clean Air” program has been prepared to fight smog through certain actions in transportation pollution reduction and cleaner and more efficient heating in residential housings.  In June 2018, an agreement to launch this $ 30 billion program for the years 2018-2029 was signed between the National Fund for Environmental Protection, 16 regional Environmental Protection Funds and the Environmental Protection Bank.

The new anti-smog program will help homeowners modernize their heating by exchanging old furnaces for more ecological ones and to perform thermo-modernization of private homes. The government wants to co-finance household insulation and the purchase of cleaner heating systems, hoping it will significantly cut down pollution.  Out of the $30 billion allocated for the program, $18 billion will be paid as government subsidies (for low-income families) and the rest will be provided through loans.  The program pertains to already existing buildings and buildings under development.  In the case of existing houses, financing may be given for: 1) replacing old inefficient coal heating sources with modern heating boilers fueled by coal or biomass; 2) electric heating systems; 3) condensing gas boilers and heating pumps; 4) building thermo-modernization; and 5) utilization of renewable sources for electricity and heat generation (solar collectors and photovoltaic micro-installations).  For buildings under development, financing can be used to purchase and maintain new, more efficient heat sources, modern boilers, electric heating systems, condensing gas boilers and heating pumps. Approximately three million residential houses will be thermo-modernized under the program.  The program generates demand for the above-mentioned equipment and related services, creating opportunities for U.S. companies.