Netherlands faces winter of smog – media — Analysis

There have been record sales of wood burning stoves, despite a steep rise in gas prices

Public health officials have warned that smog and particulate polluting will increase in the Netherlands during winter. This is due to the fact that more people are choosing to use firewood to heat their homes as gasoline prices rise.

Sales of wood and pellet stoves have increased by 30% since last summer, De Volkskrant reported on Sunday. The newspaper stated that the demand is so great, and manufacturers are having trouble supplying enough stoves. Firewood suppliers, meanwhile, are already running out of stock, and sourcing more logs is a difficult proposition, as the Dutch forestry agency refuses to supply trees to the firewood industry.

According to the National Institute for Public Health (RIVM), with electricity and gas prices at an all-time high, wood burning could have negative environmental effects. 

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

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Although the institute is currently investigating ways to lower this risk of pollution, it has limited powers. Although it can alert households to avoid lighting fires during high smog days, the institute cannot enforce any ban.

Last month health experts called on parliament to ban smoking. They explained that winter is when there are more chances of getting smog from the fires. According to the newspaper, however, the RIVM has begun to investigate heat pump technology.

Wood fires are not just making a comeback in the Netherlands. Poland gave its citizens permission to hoard timber for burning last month, while Latvians have rushed for firewood collection permits and Hungary has ordered a halt to firewood exports. According to the UK’s London Fire Brigade, 100 home fires had been started in their neighbourhoods by homeowners using open fires for warmth.

Gas prices in Europe had been steadily increasing since the outbreak of coronavirus, but they have risen sharply in the wake of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. In response to Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the EU began to phase out Russian fuel imports. Gazprom, Russia’s largest gas company has stated that it is unable to supply gas to the region because of sanctions.

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