Netherlands faces smoggy winter – media – RT World News

Record sales of wood-burning stoves were recorded, amid sharply rising gas prices

Smog and particulate pollution will increase in the Netherlands this winter, public health authorities have warned. This increase is related to more households choosing to burn firewood as gasoline prices soar.

Sales of wood and pellet stoves have increased by 30% since last summer, De Volkskrant reported on Sunday. Demand is now so high, the newspaper reports, that manufacturers are struggling to deliver enough of these stoves. Firewood suppliers, meanwhile, are already out of stock, and sourcing logs is a tough proposition, as the Dutch forestry agency refuses to supply trees to the firewood industry.

With gas and electricity bills at record highs, the switch of some consumers to wood heating will have environmental consequences, the National Institute of Public Health (RIVM) has warned.

“The sale of wood is linked to consumption and it is indeed expected that this will not have a positive impact on air pollution”, a spokesperson told De Volkskrant.

While the institute studies the measures to be taken to reduce this risk of pollution, its powers are currently limited. It can warn households against starting fires on days when the risk of smog is high, but cannot impose a ban.

Health experts called for a ban last month, telling parliament such a measure would be needed in winter when more fires would increase the risk of smog. However, there are currently no other viable heat sources to replace gas or solid fuels, although the RIVM is studying heat pump technology, according to the newspaper.

The Netherlands is not the only European country where wood fires are making a comeback. Poland gave its citizens permission to hoard wood for burning last month, while Latvians rushed to secure firewood collection permits and Hungary ordered a halt to wood exports of heating. In the UK, firefighters in London said in May their officers had responded to 100 house fires in previous months, started by people burning wood in open fires to stay warm.

While gas prices across Europe have risen steadily since the end of the coronavirus pandemic, the rise has accelerated sharply since Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine in February. The EU began phasing out Russian fuel imports in response, while Russian gas giant Gazprom said the sanctions were hampering its ability to deliver gas to the region.

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