WARSAW Feb 10 Environmental groups are to
complain to the European Union about dangerous levels of air
pollution, accusing government departments and local authorities
of passing the buck and failing to tackle the lethal smog.
Poland's air is the most polluted in Europe, due in part to
extensive coal and garbage-burning by households, and kills more
than 40,000 people a year, activists say. Cities such as Warsaw,
Katowice and Krakow have choked with smog this winter, with
pollution levels often exceeding those of Beijing or New Delhi.
The energy, environment and economy ministries have come up
with proposals, including monitoring the quality of solid fuel
or imposing standards on household burners.
But environmentalists say bolder measures are needed and
blame the government for downplaying the problem and putting the
interest of the coal industry above citizens' health.
"Instead of efficient actions we mostly see the government
and local authorities shifting responsibilities for solving the
problem," said Agnieszka Warso-Buchanan from environmental law
"This is why we have decided to prepare a complaint to the
The EU executive has already launched legal action against
Poland and several other EU member states for air pollution, but
such procedures can take years to have any meaningful impact.
Twenty-three of the EU's 28 member states breach air quality
standards, the Commission says.
Aside from air quality, campaigners in Poland are concerned
about the impact of a government decision to increase logging in
the Bialowieza Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
(Reporting and writing by Agnieszka Barteczko; Additional
reporting by Alissa de Carbonnel in Brussels; Editing by Lidia
Kelly and Robin Pomeroy)