The World Bank will lend EUR 250 million to Poland to help the country improve its air quality and energy efficiency. This financing was approved on Wednesday by the World Bank Group’s Board of Executive Directors, who represent the institution’s shareholders.
In this new project, the World Bank will support the scale-up of the Clean Air Priority Program. The program offers assistance and incentives to owners of single-family buildings that rely on old, polluting boilers to replace them with cleaner, more efficient installations, and get their houses insulated. It is implemented by the Polish Ministry of Climate and Environment and the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management (NFOŚiGW) in cooperation with 16 regional funds. It is the largest air quality and energy efficiency program in Europe, expected to cover three million households and significantly improve air quality, whilst generating tangible benefits for health, environment, and climate.
“In partnership with the Polish institutions and the European Commission, we helped lay the foundation for a universal, nationwide initiative for air quality improvement in Poland three years ago. Now we are reinforcing our cooperation, with a combination of financial and technical support designed to strengthen the Clean Air Priority Program. Our ambition over the next five years of our partnership is to support both the decarbonization of the heating sector as well as the program’s inclusion and pace,” said Gallina A. Vincelette, World Bank Country Director for the European Union.
The loan funds from the World Bank’s new Program for Results (PforR) operation will go directly to the state budget and be disbursed according to the reform milestones achieved by the Clean Air Priority Program. These include policy enhancements, such as the launch of a lowest-income component and expanding commercial bank participation, as well as targets based on the number of boilers upgraded and homes renovated.
“The Ministry of Climate and Environment is helping improve the quality of air through programmatic, legislative, and financial actions. Over the last three years, we have demonstrated that the Clean Air Priority Program, with a monthly uptake of up to tens of thousands of participants, is a real platform for the improvement of air quality in Poland. But we cannot sit back and relax. On the contrary, we are determined to make further improvements and broaden the initiative, especially by reaching out to the lowest-income population. We are delighted that the World Bank continues to be our international partner on this journey,” said Anna Moskwa, the Minister for Climate and Environment of Poland.
Poland has struggled with air quality for years. According to international estimations, more than 46,000 people die prematurely due to poor air quality every year. As much as 80 percent of pollution is generated by burning poor-quality fuel in single-family buildings, which are targeted by the World Bank’s PforR.
“In fighting smog, we care about the good health of people and the environment, while contributing to the much-needed energy transition in Poland. For a long time, we have been working closely with civil society, smog alerts, and local communities to find optimum solutions for this priority issue. Our efforts have also benefited from the support of international institutions, such as the World Bank and the European Commission,” said Bartłomiej Orzeł, Polish Prime Minister’s Plenipotentiary for the Clean Air Priority Program.
For many years, the World Bank has supported countries in their air quality improvement efforts. The countries that have received World Bank financing or advice on this reform agenda include, among others, China, India, Peru, Egypt, Chile, and Mexico.