In early 2019, just before the COVID-lockdown crisis hit the world, the southern Polish city of Kraków introduced a ban on burning coal and wood in a campaign against smog.
The move means residents face fines for using such fuel in their stoves, boilers, fireplaces and even for cooking on stationary barbecues. Lighter, portable barbecues are exempt.
Inspectors will monitor air pollution levels using a drone, thermal imaging camera and a dust monitor, state news agency PAP reported.
Fast-forward three years, with millions of refugees surging across the border from Ukraine and energy prices at record-er and record-er highs, it appears the Polish government has changed its mind on 'smog' and 'climate change' as it reminded citizens on Friday they can forage firewood from forests to keep warm.
The government said it was taking steps to make it easier for people to collect firewood in an effort to ease the pressure created by sky-rocketing energy bills and shortages of coal.
“It is always possible, with the consent of foresters, to collect branches for fuel,” said deputy climate and energy minister Edward Siarka.
However, it's not quite as 'easy' as wondering into the forest with your axe.
The polish government demands that those wishing to gather wood must first undergo training and obtain permission from the local forestry unit. Additionally, they went on to clarify that people can only take branches already lying on the ground, and cannot cut down trees.
“Only branches can be gathered. At the same time, the collected branches cannot be thicker than seven centimeters,” said Katowice Directorate of State Forestry official Marek Mroz.
Interestingly, while Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki's government is blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine for driving up costs (Putinflation), as Euronews reports, critics, however, say the war is only partially to blame. They argue that costs have risen for seven years under Law and Justice's social spending policies, which include cash handouts to families with children and the elderly.
"We will all be collecting brushwood,” said Donald Tusk, leader of the opposition Civic Platform on Friday.
“Because this seems to be the latest idea to prevent Polish poverty that Law and Justice has prepared for all of us.”
The Law and Justice party has said it is seeking ways to alleviate the energy crisis, stating that eight ships carrying more than 700,000 tonnes of coal are on their way to Poland.
Greta will not be happy at all!! (has anyone else noticed how quiet she has been during this crisis). Who cares about the 'climate' when your fingers have frostbite and you can't heat your food…