“Clean Air” Program for Poland: Tales of Desperation and Hope
According to a recent European Environment Agency’s (EEA) “Air quality in Europe – 2017 Report” based on official data from 2500 monitoring stations spread all over the continent “7% of the urban population in the EU-28 is exposed to levels above the EU (European Union) limit value, and approximately 82% is exposed to concentrations exceeding the stricter World Health Organization (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines (AQG) value for particulate matter (PM) 2.5.” Air pollution has long been a major problem for many local populations across the EU and is now officially referred to by the EU officials as “invisible killer”.
Poland, home to 33 of the continent’s 50 most polluted cities (according to a WHO statistics), has some of the worst air quality in Europe. The situation is particularly bad in the southern part of the country, where the next United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP24) will be taking place. Silesian towns frequently fall into the index’s “very poor” category for high levels of PM2.5 and PM10, two key pollutants estimated responsible for killing approximately 45,000 Poles in 2012. In early 2018, in response to the European Commission (EC) complaint, the EU Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that between 2007 and 2015 Poland violated the regulations on air quality by not complying with the daily and annual admissible values of concentrations of suspended dust. In the course of at least five consecutive years, the daily PM10 limit values were exceeded in 35 out of 46 zones in which the air quality is measured. In addition, the permissible annual concentrations were also exceeded in nine zones. The ECJ also stated that none of the air protection programs adopted by Poland at the national or regional level clearly required limiting the overruns as soon as possible. The ECJ judgment means that if the situation does not improve, the EC may impose financial penalties on Poland.