WARSAW, Poland — Poland's government plans to spend up to $8.8 billion by 2028 on cleaner heating as part of its efforts to fight smog, the Polish prime minister said Thursday.
Mateusz Morawiecki spoke at a government committee tasked with fighting air pollution under a new "Stop Smog" 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.
"We treat this problem seriously. We don't want our children to associate winter with masks on their faces, but with snow and sledge and snowmen," Morawiecki said.
The government wants to co-finance household insulation and the purchase of cleaner heating systems, hoping that will significantly cut down the pollution.
Morawiecki said that the "unprecedented" amount of investment for the program is well worth spending because proper insulation can halve the energy needed to heat a house.
In February, the European Union's Court of Justice said that from 2007 to 15 Poland broke EU law by exceeding the bloc's air pollution limit and urged the government to speed up efforts to improve air quality.
Up to 48,000 deaths each year in Poland are attributed to ailments due to poor air quality.
Poland is hosting a U.N. climate conference in December.