At the second round table held on June 8, 2017 in Warsaw, representatives of Polish and German ministries together with bilateral experts discussed strategies to combat energy poverty and confront the air pollution in Poland.
For many years, Poland has been among the EU Member States with the highest levels of air pollution, which in cities are usually the result of the heating behavior of households. New studies are pointing out lacking economic incentives and energy poverty as reasons for this phenomenon. The causes of energy poverty and air pollution should therefore be combated together. adelphi and the Institute for Public Affairs have developed a roundtable discussion format in Warsaw on the subject. Representatives of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB) and the representatives of several Polish ministries discussed the current state of energy poverty in the EU, along with examining concrete policies, programmes and projects for its containment with research institutions and non-governmental organizations.
Kinga Majewska, Deputy Head of the Department of Air Pollution and Climate Protection in the Polish Ministry of the Environment, pointed out that the ministry is currently working intensively on these issues. There was a need to create the right incentives for behavioral changes, since even small efforts could produce great effects. Dr. Silke Karcher, Head of the Section of European Climate and Energy Policy at the BMUB, emphasized that Polish cities could create what Berlin and other cities in eastern Germany did, namely to achieve a noticeable improvement in air quality after a socialist past.
In the presence of representatives of the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure, the Polish Ministry of Energy and the Polish Ministry of the Family, Anna Dworakowska from the association The Cracow Smog Alert drew attention to the lack of legal standards for the energy efficiency of boilers. In addition to legal requirements, thermal insulation was also named an important starting point in order to mitigate energy poverty through savings. On measures to deal with energy poverty, Dr. Ulrich Fahl from the University of Stuttgart introduced special administrative procedures for the prevention of power cutoffs by electricity providers and also discussed the introduction of social tariffs for energy costs. There was also a great deal of interest on the part of all stakeholders in the Stromspar-Check (energy savings check) presented by Barbara Kalker, regional coordinator of the German Caritas, which provides incentives for households to save energy and in turn costs in Germany.
The ministerial representatives were also able to present current developments from their respective houses to the exchange of high level experts. Kinga Majewska said Poland would implement the EU’s Eco Design Directive, which will prevent the production and sale of pollutant-intensive and inefficient boilers from 2018 onwards. Radosław Tabak from the Polish Ministry of Energy reported on the founding of an internal ministry task force to combat energy poverty.
At the end of the event, the participants agreed that the topic of energy poverty could not be countered by individual measures because of its direct link with air pollution. It was important, stressed Dr. Silke Karcher, that all the policy areas would work together to tackle this problem.