Building capacities at the local level
A lack of capacities at the local level is one of the key bottlenecks for the successful implementation of the Małopolska Air Quality Plan (MAQP). In the preparatory process for the Life IP application, the Marshal’s Office has carried out a needs assessment, consulting all 90 municipalities that are obliged to carry out the measures specified in the MAQP (a questionnaire, meetings, moderated workshops). This process has led to defining two major activities aimed at building capacities at the local level that can significantly strengthen the MAQP: creating a system of Eco-Managers and an Excellence Centre. The detailed concept of Eco-managers system and the Excellence Centre has been worked out jointly by the Marshall Office and project partners with support of the external consultant (Deloitte). These measures will not only facilitate MAQP implementation but also can become model solutions to be utilised and replicated in the entire hotspot.
Eco-Managers, i.e. staff well-trained in air protection and energy management, have been employed in 55 municipal authorities. Eco-managers focus on MAQP implementation and their employment is directly translate into increased involvement of municipalities in air protection measures. Eco-managers develop and implement municipal air protection strategies, integrating all the documents at the local level that refer to energy management, low carbon development and air protection. This will help ensure sustainability and effectiveness of actions in this area. Eco-managers are responsible for organising external funding for air protection actions and for mobilising residents to use support measures for replacement of solid fuel boilers or thermal retrofits of their houses (e.g. Measure 4.5 of the Regional Operational Programme for the Małopolska Region 2014-2020). One of the important tasks of Eco-managers is to conduct information and education activities among residents, explaining the sources and impacts of air pollution and the possibilities of taking air protection measures by the inhabitants. They provide direct advisory assistance in terms of heat source replacement and thermal retrofits. Eco-managers have to cooperate with different subjects: municipal authorities (they are based within the local authority structure), residents, businesses, opinion making groups (media, NGOs, doctors, teachers, etc.). On the regional level they cooperate with the Marshal Office, i.e. the body responsible for MAQP implementation and management of Regional Operational Programme and funds for air protection.
C2. Excellence Centre
The main objective of the Excellence Centre is to strengthen the implementation of the MAQP by raising qualification of staff dealing with air protection issues at the local level (Eco-Managers and other municipal staff responsible for air quality improvement). The Centre will also develop competence among other key stakeholders: regional and municipal decision makers (also beyond Małopolska), opinion making circles, etc. It will be based at the Marshal Office and will provide ongoing support and training for Eco-Managers in all relevant fields identified in MAQP and advice on the integration of local energy planning with low-stack emission abatement programmes. It will develop tools to support Eco-Managers’ work. The Centre will manage the regional database to monitor the progress in the elimination of low-stack emission programmes in municipalities. It will also conduct analyses and studies supporting the MAQP implementation and updates. It will also facilitate preparation and implementation of MAQP updates. The Centre will provide its know-how to Marshal’s Offices responsible for AQPs and municipalities from all 16 regions in Poland, as well as key stakeholders in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
C3. Support for the implementation of a ban on the use of solid fuels for heating in Krakow
Krakow is the first Polish city to adopt a solid fuel ban in residential heating (to become effective on 1.09.2019). The resolution on the ban resulted in a massive increase in the number of applications for subsidies for coal boiler replacement. However, the previous system of subsidies works inefficiently, while human resources at the disposal of municipal authorities are insufficient. This jeopardized the implementation of MAQP objectives for Krakow. Therefore the LIFE IP support modernisation of the subsidy system and the control system once the ban is fully effective from 2019. Inhabitants of Krakow are provided with expert support in choosing new heat sources, preparing necessary documents and obtaining funds from other sources (e.g. for thermal retrofits).
Air quality modelling to support regional and local policies
C4. Platform to manage air quality in Krakow with the use of high-resolution modelling tools
To investigate the effectiveness of the various policy scenarios that will be analysed during the IP, Krakow authorities carry out air quality modelling at the local level. In Krakow as well as residential heating, traffic emissions play a significant role. A high resolution application for modelling of pollution dispersion and analysis of the impact of different measures on air quality is prepared. Apart from this an analysis of different low emission zone scenarios are developed. Its results support the local decision making process. Previously municipalities in Małopolska have not used such tools for air quality management.
C6. International modelling of air pollution in the Małopolska Region, Silesian Region, Slovakia and the Czech Republic
The IP includes international modelling between the Malopolska Region, Silesian Region, the Czech Republic and Slovakia focusing on the creation of a trans-boundary emission database and a common regional modelling framework. The key tasks include: the refinement of the existing residential heating emission inventories (at high resolution) in all three regions, in collaboration with each other; the development of a spatially distributed trans-boundary emission web-application that allows the definition and calculation of trans-boundary emission fields for present and future years; the establishment of a regional air quality model for the trans-boundary region using the trans-boundary emission inventory to air quality background concentrations for air quality modelling plans in the hotspot area; technical exchange and workshops between the international partners on each of the above tasks and dissemination of practices and tools to surrounding international/inter-regional hotspot regions to encourage take-up of these applications in those areas through future EU or national funded projects.
D1. Monitoring the effects of the implementation of Małopolska Air Quality Plan
The project includes a number of monitoring measures, addressing different aspects of MAQP implementation. One of them is development of a tool that will facilitate collection and analysis of information provided by municipalities regarding air quality improvement actions taken by them. It will be important for reliable assessment of progress towards achievement of MAQP goals. Verification of the innovative methods of air quality measurements is carried out using low-cost air quality sensors. The effects and applicability of sensors are carried out (especially in in the winter season) and compared with results from the monitoring stations.
D2. Monitoring social and economic impact of the project
Regular public opinion polls are conducted in order to verify the level of awareness with regard to air pollution, necessary measures and support instruments available. Apart from this direct and indirect impact of the LIFE IP on the economy and quality of life in the region are analysed.
E1. Regional media campaign to promote clean air
Low social awareness of the problem of air pollution, its origins and health effects poses a significant barrier to the effective implementation of the MAQP. Developing effective public awareness raising campaigns that would trigger behavioural changes (i.e. switching to clean fuels and appliances, thermal retrofits) is a highly challenging task. Media, education and information campaigns aimed at increasing public awareness in this area are constitute one of the key elements of the LIFE IP.
E2. Local education and information campaign to promote clean air
The campaign is addressed to the general public – especially as regards raising awareness of the air pollution problem, its causes and negative impacts (health, economic and social ones). It is particularly important to engage various opinion leaders who can pass on their knowledge to local communities encouraging them to take air quality improvement measures. These include: doctors, teachers, priests, firemen, local NGOs, universities of the third age, chambers of commerce and chambers of agriculture, Local Action Groups, local entrepreneurs, village leaders, village leaders.
Individual campaigns are managed by Eco-Managers. They are responsible for taking specific actions at the local level, promoting the engagement of the above mentioned opinion leaders and establishing direct contact with local communities.
Networking and knowledge sharing
E3. Creating a platform for experience sharing with stakeholders and networking with other projects
In addition to co-operation with the project partners and all municipalities in the Małoplska Region, effective experience sharing and knowledge transfer platforms are organised between all the key stakeholders in Poland and the hotspot (i.e. the authorities responsible for AQPs, local authorities carrying out low-stack emission abatement programmes, NGOs etc.). This strengthen joint activities in the hotspot area and in other Polish regions. Conferences and study visits are organised in order to exchange experiences and promote the project.
E4. Project promotion
Ensuring adequate promotion of the project and its results is crucial for transferring good practices and know-how to other regions (e.g. disseminating the model of Eco-Managers to other municipalities). The LIFE IP is promoted through numerous actions: the regional media campaign, local education and information activities, energy efficiency educational kits for residents, project website, series of articles in specialised press in order to promote the transfer of good practices that can be implemented in other regions of Poland and Europe.
F1. Project management
The management structure ensures proper implementation of actions provided for under the project, its coordination, management and supervision. The key element is to separate the implementation function from management and supervision. The implementation of management structure is additionally supported by the Programme Board, which act as a patron of the project and simultaneously as a programme advisor for the entities creating this system.
Project Management include the preparation of quantitative and qualitative indicators of project implementation to be submitted to the European Commission with the Interim Reports and the Final Report.
F2. After-Life Action Plan
One of the crucial actions taken under the project is to prepare a plan for the period after the project ends. The experience gained throughout the project is used to develop a strategy for future actions. The goal is to use the potential resulting from the LIFE integrated project implementation and opportunities to continue the most valuable actions.