How to dispel the grey, poisonous fog that envelops many Polish towns during the heating season? The authorities of Malopolska not only have a plan, but also the knowledge and experience to finally crack down on smog - with consistent work - in the next few years . Their example shows that fight against smog should not and does not have to end with slogans, but can translate into some real improvement of the air residents breathe.

The Małopolska Voivodship is one of the national leaders in efforts to improve air quality and climate. From 27 October 2020 a new Air Protection Programme will be in force in the Małopolska Region, whose main goal is a significant reduction in emissions of particulate matter in the atmosphere by 2023 and of benzo(a)pyrene by 2026.

- We intend to achieve this through, for instance, better use of government instruments, such as the Clean Air Programme. The Air Protection Programme also requires greater involvement of self-governments, e.g. by employing eco-advisors, helping people affected by energy poverty and carrying out inspections of furnaces - says Tomasz Urynowicz, Deputy Marshal of the Małopolska Region.

Resolution on smog

The organized fight against smog began in Małopolska with the adoption of the so-called anti-smog resolutions: for Krakow and for the entire voivodship.

– These documents have become a model for other regions. The pioneering anti-smog resolution for Krakow of 1 September 2019 introduced a complete ban on the use of solid fuels: coal and wood within the city. It has become the subject of heated public debate, and the adopted solutions and their effects are watched by local governments and scientists from all over Poland - says Tomasz Urynowicz.

 The Air Protection Programme for Małopolska adopted. Watch video

On 25 January this year, a report by two Krakow researchers at the AGH University of Science and Technology, Prof. Piotr Kleczkowski and Ms Katarzyna Kotarba, was published, unequivocally confirming that air quality in Krakow is improving much faster than in the rest of the province. The decrease in the concentration of the carcinogenic benzo(a)pyrene between the 2012/13 and 2019/20 heating seasons was over 42% in Krakow. Concentrations of PM 10 have fallen by over 45% and PM 2.5 by nearly 44%.

The anti-smog resolution for Małopolska, adopted in January 2017, was the regulation on which other voivodeships have subsequently followed suit. Among other things, it introduced restrictions on the use of outdated furnaces and heating equipment. For almost 4 years now, only modern solid fuel furnaces that meet the requirements of the so-called Ecodesign may be installed in the region. By the end of 2022, out-of-class furnaces must be replaced, and by the end of 2026 - those with emission class 3 or 4.

- The Małopolska anti-smog resolution was initially perceived as restrictive, but as time passed, more and more cities and municipalities, encouraged by the visible improvement of air quality in Kraków, applied to the voivodship self-government for adoption of local resolutions. The Voivodeship's self-government has already drawn up preliminary guidelines to ensure that local anti-smog resolutions are uniform and consistent with the regulations already in force - comments Tomasz Urynowicz. The solutions adopted in Małopolska are in line with the objectives of the National Energy Policy 2040 and aim to eliminate coal as a fuel by 2030.

The effects of implementing anti-smog resolutions in Kraków and Małopolska are visible: they include reduction of particulate matter emissions into the air in 2015-2019 by approx. 2.3 thousand tonnes, over 50 thousand replaced coal-fired furnaces and 17 thousand performed inspections of furnaces. So far, nearly one billion euros have been obtained for the replacement of outdated boilers, thermal modernisation of buildings and installation of Renewable Energy Sources.

Eco-advisors, Eco-intervention - residents are not alone

Preparation and implementation of anti-smog regulations is strongly supported by the LIFE Integrated Project "Implementation of the Air Protection Programme for the Małopolska Region - Małopolska in a healthy atmosphere". The Małopolska self-government obtained funds from the EU LIFE programme, which finances innovative environmental protection projects in Europe.

- LIFE IP Małopolska means real help for the people of Małopolska. 62 of the region's communes employ eco-consultants who on a daily basis assist residents in making decisions and completing formalities related to environmentally friendly investments, primarily furnace replacement. Municipalities with eco-counsellors are three times more efficient in obtaining funds for air improvement than those where such a post was not created - stresses Tomasz Urynowicz.

The project also included the creation of a mobile app, Ecointervention, with which residents can quickly and easily report environmental violations, including waste incineration, from their own phone. It is available free of charge, and in 2020 the app recorded 6,329 reports. The ecological awareness of the inhabitants is raised systematically through, among others, social campaigns, workshops and training sessions as well as the ekoMałopolska profile on Facebook and the ekoMałopolska Internet TV.

The next challenge - stopping climate change

Nadzieję na poprawę powietrza w kolejnych regionach Małopolski daje uchwalony w ubiegłym roku Program Ochrony Powietrza. Określa on kierunki działania i wyznacza zadania gmin, powiatów i samorządu województwa w celu lepszej realizacji uchwał antysmogowych. Ustala także działania krótkoterminowe w przypadku wystąpienia zagrożenia zanieczyszczeniem powietrza.

Do najważniejszych zadań gmin należą

  • utworzenie punktu obsługi programu dotacyjnego Czyste Powietrze,
  • wsparcie osób dotkniętych ubóstwem energetycznym,
  • prowadzenie kontroli spalania odpadów w ciągu 12 godzin od zgłoszenia naruszenia.
W Małopolsce wykluczone zostały dotacje do kotłów węglowych z pieniędzy publicznych, a budynki użyteczności publicznej do 2023 w 50 procentach powinny być zasilane Odnawialnymi Źródłami Energii. Każda gmina została zobowiązana do utworzenia stanowiska ekodoradcy.
Od stycznia bieżącego roku Małopolska jako jedyny region w Europie rozpoczęła realizację drugiego programu LIFE IP – „Wdrażanie Regionalnego Planu Działań dla Klimatu I Energii”. Przygotuje on m. in. grunt do transformacji energetycznej regionu.

Materiał opracowany przez Urząd Województwa Małopolskiego