Government report gives Czech Republic low marks for air quality
A newly-released government report on state of the Czech environment for the year 2013 has underscored the continued issue of poor air quality across the Czech Republic. The report also highlighted other pressing issues such as the poor condition of forests, risks of erosion and excessive use of land for construction of roads and buildings.
I spoke with Vojtěch Kotecký formerly of the environmental group Hnutí duha, and now with analysts Glopolis, and began by asking him to sum up the report:
“We continue to have very bad air quality in some parts of the Czech Republic. In some of our industrial regions, in some of the big cities because of heavy and increasing car traffic, and also we continue to have some very bad air quality in rural areas, because of local coal heating via small stoves.”
“This is a major environmental problem in this country. A problem which affects the health of thousands of people. And it depends heavily on local conditions – whether there is gas used in a village or not; the local socio-economic conditions play a role too in determining what people heat their homes with. And it also heavily depends on local geography because villages in narrow valleys are obviously much more affected by local air pollution.”
What does the government intend to do in the future to improve air quality? There has been talk of sourcing some EU grant monies to encourage people to update their heating systems. So what can be done?
Czech environment minister Richard Brabec (ANO) has told Czech media of plans to source as much as CZK 9 billion of EU funds to help Czechs shift to cleaner methods of heating. But with gas prices high, many in the country are simply choosing to burn what they can, with health implications swept under the proverbial rug.