Target: Beata Szydlo, Prime Minister of Poland
Goal: Take immediate action in response to air quality crisis.
In recent years, Poland has gained the infamous title of the most polluted country in Europe. A study by the European Union found that the country is home to 33 of the 50 dirtiest cities on the continent. As much of Europe has embraced a transition to renewable sources, Poland remains entirely dependent on coal for energy production. This has led to disastrous health impacts on Polish citizens, 40,000 of whom die prematurely each year from pollution-related illnesses.
The burning of coal as a fuel source has a long history dating back to the 1800s, with a marked increase in the post-WWII years, and now accounts for almost 90 percent of total energy generation. This presents an especially grave threat to the climate and human health during harsh winters when many homes require daily heating. The impact is evidenced by daily air pollution levels in cities such as Warsaw exceeding those in Beijing and New Delhi. It has become commonplace for local magistrates to issue public warnings, institute temporary school closures and provide free public transportation on heavy smog days.
There has been a general lack of action from the Polish government in response to the emerging air quality crisis. This is thought to be primarily due to the strong influence of coal companies in suppressing any meaningful emission regulations. A key example is a ban on the use of coal for home heating, which was passed in Krakow, but has since faced significant resistance from the coal-backed national government. The European Union has attempted to intervene, citing that many Polish cities have vastly exceeded daily and annual pollution limits, however these measures amounted to little more than warnings and the threat of potential legal action in the future.
A continued lack of meaningful action to address poor air quality in Poland will have dire effects on its citizen’s health and well-being. Please sign the below petition calling on the Prime Minister to institute strategies for reducing air pollution.
Dear Prime Minister Szydlo,
I am writing to urge you to address the worsening air quality crisis in Poland. As you are aware, 33 of the 50 most polluted cities in Europe are Polish, and over 40,000 citizens die each year from pollution related illnesses. A primary cause is the continued reliance on the burning of coal to power the Polish economy.
Your government’s continued refusal to implement meaningful reforms in response to this crisis, is both contributing to climate change and placing your citizen’s health in jeopardy. Please take the lead from cities such as Krakow and institute policies which will discourage the burning of coal and other dirty fuel sources.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Radek Kolakowski