New boilers: hope for a phase-out of coal from households
Country: Czech Republic
EU funding: EUR 350 million
Aiming to reduce air pollution from household heating, the Operational Programme Environment has designed a scheme to exchange small boilers for heating homes with newer and cleaner ones.
In its first phase though, the programme supported sources that relied on burning coal, missing an opportunity to reduce CO2 emissions together with air pollution. During the second call for requests, the Ministry of Environment got it right and ruled out support for coal boilers, though it was still possible to ask for combined coal and biomass heat sources. Efforts by Bankwatch member Hnutí DUHA have started to pay dividends in the next round of the Operational Programme Environment, finally some results have shown.
… the plan sets special conditions for low-income households
Hnutí DUHA elaborated an effective plan to tackle household coal use and help families or individuals who, even with state aid, cannot afford to change their old coal boilers. The key components of the plan are to:
- reform the boiler subsidy rules in order to help especially the decommissioning of coal-fired boilers, and adding the possibility of financing new stoves which meet the strictest environmental standard. At the same time, the plan sets special conditions for low-income households, including pre-financing, interest-free loans, and municipal or social assistance with administration and implementation.
- introduce a carbon tax where revenues would be used for the continuation of national boiler subsidies;
- increase the fee on brown coal mining and use the revenues for the continuation of subsidies; and
- Increase gradually the standards leading to an end of coal heating by 2030.
The Czech Ministry of Environment has, since 2015, received about 65 000 applications and invested almost EUR 250 million from EU funds for the boiler replacement scheme. Another 30 000 replacements are expected in the coming years.
On 8 November 2018 during the Clean Air dialogue with the Czech Minister of Environment, steps towards these suggested solutions were made, including the replacement of old stoves as part of the New Green Savings programme, as well as the launch of a pilot project in the Moravian-Silesian region for interest-free loans to purchase new boilers, with financing for those who would help with administration.
The introduction of a carbon tax is also still on the table, as the Ministry has already asked for an impact analysis and continues negotiations with the Ministry of Finance.