"People Power Movements Shake Up Krakow"
"Over the past year, public opinion appears to have mobilised with the aim of making voices heard in the chambers of power, both in the city council and the Małopolska regional government. The most high-profile has been the campaign by Krakowski Alarm Smogowy – a group which it is safe to say toppled the will of politicians and forced an agreement to ban ‘dirty fuel’ from heating systems.
The decision, that coal and wood burning furnaces in Krakow and the surrounding area would be become illegal within five years, was announced by the Małopolska regional council in November. Yet, right up to the last minute, councillors fought for alternative – and less expensive – measures. Just hours before the announcement was made, moves to exclude wood from the ban were underway. In the months leading up to the vote, Krakow’s mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, appeared to shift his position from one urging Krakowski Alarm Smogowy to tone down their public message for fear that it would damage the city’s reputation among tourists, to outright support and a statement that in attempting to ban dirty fuels there was ‘no time to lose’.
In this case, it is tempting to say that sheer weight of numbers forced the hands of the politicians. Close to 20,000 people are engaged with Krakowski Alarm Smogowy’s Facebook page, and a mass demonstration in the city centre drew hundreds of supporters in October. It is also worth considering that local, national and European elections are looming, making this a good time for politicians to start listening, or appearing to listen, to public opinion."
Anthony Casey, People Power Movements Shake Up Krakow, Krakow Post, December 2013, pp. 8-9.
Read more on Krakow Post's website.