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Informal ENVI Council meeting attended by Minister Kowalczyk

Henryk Kowalczyk, Minister of Environment, and Sławomir Mazurek, Vice-Minister of Environment, attended an informal meeting of the Council of the European Union for the Environment (ENVI Council). The meeting took place on the 10-11th of April 2018 in Sofia.

One of the issues raised during the meeting of the Council was the solutions aimed at improving air quality. During the meeting, Minister Henryk Kowalczyk pointed out that without good cooperation at the level of sectoral policies, the problem of poor air quality in Europe would not be solved.

"Corrective action should be taken at government level as a matter of priority. For this reason, all strategic documents prepared by individual ministers in Poland take into account air quality issues," he added.

These documents include, among others, the National Programme for Air Protection prepared by the Ministry of Environment. It establishes a Partnership for the improvement of air quality between the government and local government bodies, business entities and other stakeholders.

Minister Kowalczyk also pointed out that in Poland, the dominant source of pollution are emissions from the household and municipal sector. For this reason, the Ministry of Environment is carrying out activities aimed at raising public awareness in this area. Among other things, the Ministry developed the Guide to clean solid fuel heating in my house. It contains, among other things, information on raising funds to replace old high emission boilers with environmentally friendly devices. The nationwide “Stop Smog” project is also being implemented. Within the framework of the project, employees of municipal social welfare centres reach the poorest part of the society with information on proper heating of houses and flats.

During the ENVI Council meeting, Minister Kowalczyk also drew attention to the need to adequately secure financial resources for measures aimed at improving air quality.

“The Financial Perspective of the European Union after 2020 should respond adequately to the problem of air quality in Europe,” he said.

Climate negotiations and COP24 Summit

The next topic on the Council's agenda was the international climate negotiations. 2018 will be a breakthrough in this respect. During the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24), which will take place in December this year in Katowice, the finalisation of the work on the implementation package for the Paris Agreement is slated to take place. This is a prerequisite for the implementation of the Agreement by the individual states – parties to the Agreement.

During the Council, Minister Kowalczyk indicated that Poland, as the host of COP24, would take all necessary efforts to ensure that the implementation package will be adopted in Katowice.

“Poland, as the future Presidency of the UN COP24 Summit, declares that it will work closely with the European Commission and the Member States of the European Union to ensure that the entire implementation package for the Paris Agreement is worked out,” he said.

The second very important event during the COP24 summit will be the so-called Talanoa Dialogue (a dialogue of states and non-governmental partners on the possibilities of increasing the effectiveness of implemented climate policies and actions). Minister Kowalczyk pointed out that during the summit in Katowice, the dialogue will be a place to emphasise the leading role of the European Union and its Member States, both as leaders in the activities aimed at preventing global warming and as donors of financial resources for developing countries to reduce and adapt to climate change.

“Regarding finances, we are planning to adopt a decision allowing the Adaptation Fund to operate under the Paris Agreement during the COP24 Summit. The implementation of this point is one of the important expectations of developing countries and the least developed countries,” Minister Kowalczyk added.

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