Poland as the host of COP24
The Minister of the Environment Jan Szyszko reminded that Poland will host the 24th Climate Change Conference (COP24) in 2018.
“Poland is particularly keen for the Katowice summit to adopt a package of decisions implementing the Paris Agreement, which is intended to ensure that its objectives are met,” he said.
“The selection of our country as the host of COP24 signifies a great deal of trust in Poland among the international community, especially since Poland will preside over COP for the fourth time, and for the third time, we will host the largest climate change conference in our country,” he added.
Water management reform
Faced with many years of neglect in the field of water management, the Ministry of Environment has prepared a new Water Law Act, which will enter into force on the 1st of January 2018.
“The aim of this Act will be primarily to develop a modern and functional water resource management system in Poland, finance water management and improve flood risk management mechanisms. This legislative act also envisions the creation of the State Water Management Holding Polish Water," the Minister explained.
“Moreover, after more than 30 years, the construction of a water reservoir in Świnna Poreba was finally completed. The reservoir is crucial not only for protecting the Małopolskie Voivodeship against flooding, but it is also one of the elements of the flood control system of the entire country,” Professor Szyszko added.
Restoring the health of the Białowieża Forest
The Białowieża Forest constitutes Poland’s cultural and natural heritage, as Professor Szyszko reiterated.
“In terms of biodiversity, the Białowieża Forest is unique on a European scale.
We want to continue to protect everything that has remained unchanged there for centuries. This is our duty”, he emphasised.
“Nowadays, the Białowieża Forest is dealing with dangerously fast growth of European spruce bark beetle population. However, the Ministry of Environment and the State Forests are doing their utmost to achieve the common goal of restoring its health,” the Minister added.
Professor Szyszko also pointed out that the Ministry of Environment had launched a pilot programme regarding implementation of the principles of circular economy in non-urbanised areas. The pilot programme comprising 5 municipalities is financed from the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.
We have also introduced uniform rules for selective collection of municipal waste divided into 5 categories (paper, metal, glass, plastic, biodegradable waste). This will give us good quality materials for recycling. Let us remember that Poland has to reach recycling of 50% of its municipal waste by 2020", said the minister.
Improved air quality
The most important priority for the Ministry of Environment to implement in the area of air quality improvement is the reduction of the so-called “low emissions” phenomenon – emissions from very small, local boiler plants.
Professor Jan Szyszko reminded everybody about good cooperation with other ministries on smog control and concrete legislative measures.
So far, thanks to KERM's recommendations – the Clean Air Programme of 25 April 2017, we were able to adopt a strategic regulation on emission standards for boilers. This means that starting in July next year, only boilers meeting the most stringent ecological requirements will be available to customers,” he said.
Until 2020, the Ministry of Environment will allocate 10 billion PLN in total from the budget of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management on all kinds of activities aiming at improving air quality.
Development of geothermal energy
Since the beginning of the current government's term, important measures have been taken to stimulate the interest of local governments and private entities in the implementation of tasks aimed at increasing the use of geothermal energy using aid measures consisting of co-financing of geothermal projects from the resources of the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management.
“Geothermal sources in Poland are unique and greatly exceed our demand, therefore we should actively invest in geothermal energy. This should also be our priority from the point of view of climate protection", the Minister of Environment emphasized during the conference.
Amendment of the Forest Act
Professor Szyszko also reminded the audience about the Ministry’s act enabling protection of Polish forests from foreign capital, giving the right of first refusal to the State Forest Holding. Thus, it is possible to increase the area of the state forests, which are one of our natural resources, as well as improve the condition of the forests.
“We collected over 3 million signatures from citizens in defence of Polish forests and Polish soil, so that they will not end up in foreign hands”, he said.
“These effects are important for society as a whole because they contribute to the sustainability of our forests and the ecological security of the country”, he added.
Polish Minister of Environment Professor Jan Szyszko also drew attention to the cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in the fight against ASF.
We actively cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture and actively contribute to the dilution of wild boar populations in the infected areas. This leads to a reduction of the incidence of ASF”, he said.