Coal burning banned in Warsaw to combat air pollution

by Cristian Florescu

The burning of coal to heat households – one of the main causes of Poland’s air pollution, which is among the worst in Europe – will be banned in Warsaw from the start of October next year. In areas surrounding the capital, the ban will come into force in 2028, writes Notes from Poland

The decision was approved last week by the local parliament of the Masovia province in which Warsaw is located, with 26 votes in favour and 22 against. A similar ban introduced in Kraków in 2019 is seen to have played a large part in cleaning up what was once one of Poland’s most polluted cities.

“This is a very important day for residents of Warsaw and the surrounding districts,” said Piotr Siergiej, spokesman for Polish Smog Alert, a campaign group. “The chances of breathing clean air in the capital have just increased significantly.”

Unlike Kraków’s stricter ban, the burning of wood will still be permitted. However, the installation of both coal and wood heaters in new buildings that are connected to district heating systems will be prohibited.

In recent years Warsaw has already been running a programme to subsidise the replacement of coal-fired furnaces. But maximum safe levels of airborne particles harmful to humans are regularly exceeded two- or even threefold. This happens for around one-third of the year, according to Smog Alert.

The European Environmental Agency (EEA) estimates that around 47,000 people die every year due to poor air quality in Poland, which remains reliant on coal not only for around 70% of electricity production but also for heating many homes.

The national government has in recent years sought to address the issue through its “Clean Air” programme, which aims to replace old heaters and insulate homes. But results have been mixed, with a relatively low uptake of the subsidies on offer, which have recently been increased.

The climate ministry is also working on introducing a ban on burning coal nationwide. It would apply in cities from 2030 and in rural areas from 2040, reported Business Insider Polska in February.

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