Poland to allow bad quality coal citing energy poverty risk

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WARSAW, June 29 (Reuters) - The Polish government is seeking to suspend rules banning the worst-quality coal from the market, citing soaring coal prices and risks of shortages of the fuel for homeowners.

Poland's climate ministry submitted a draft decree to suspend the restrictions introduced in 2020 for 60 days, citing the adverse changes the coal market stemming from Russia's action in Ukraine.

The government in April introduced an immediate ban on imports of Russian coal used mostly by individual households and heating plants in smaller towns, assuring Poles there would be no shortages of the fuel. Meanwhile, coal prices for homeowners have roughly tripled this year compared to 2021 to over 2,000 zlotys per tonne, pushing the government to introduce subsidies for retail coal buyers. read more Millions of Poles use coal to heat their homes.

"Current exceptional situation directly affects energy markets. As result there's a risk that citizens will not be able to buy coal for heating, which may increase energy poverty," the ministry said in an official rationale attached to the draft. Poland is heavily dependent on coal, with around 80 percent of its power production provided by coal-fired plants. In the past years, the country has had the European Union's highest ratio of premature deaths due to air pollution. Activist group Polski Alarm Smogowy (PAS) said that measures would make anti-smog policies toothless. "This is scandalous. If worst types of coal will be burned Poland's air quality will drastically suffer and so will the health of all those breathing it," PAS spokesman Piotr Siergiej told Reuters.

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Reporting by Marek Strzelecki; editing by David Evans

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