Josh Gabbatiss, for The Independent:
Poland is Europe’s smog capital, home to 33 of Europe’s 50 most polluted cities. As delegates gathered in Katowice last week, data collected by the European Environment Agency revealed it was the second most polluted city on the continent. Its levels of particulate matter were twice as high as those deemed safe by the World Health Organisation.
Considering the toxic air, the mounting pressure to drop coal altogether and the dire climate warnings, it seems remarkable that Polish politicians are gripping on to fossil fuel with such tenacity.
What’s even more frightening is that normal people — not politicians — want us to use coal, because that’s what they heard our beloved government say is good for us (insert facepalm emoji here). I have personally seen and heard their arguments. Unbelievable.
Maciek Nabrdalik and Marc Santora, for The New York Times:
High atop the ski lift at Zar Mountain in southern Poland, the villages below disappear. At first, they seem obscured by morning fog. But the yellow haze does not lift. It hangs heavy, the contrast with the white snow making it clear that something is off.
What is off is the air. Poland has some the most polluted air in all of the European Union, and 33 of its 50 dirtiest cities. Not even mountain retreats are immune.
The problem is largely a result of the country’s love affair with coal. Like elsewhere in Poland, most of the homes in the villages below Zar Mountain are still heated by coal. Some 19 million people rely on coal for heat in winter. In all of the European Union, 80 percent of private homes using coal are in Poland.
Our past and current governments’ policies are unacceptable. I’m afraid not much will change for the better until we finally have fresh, forward-thinking, and honest candidates that manage to win elections. I’m not holding my breath, although I guess I should be.