Lately | Environment

It’s that time of year (when we can’t breathe) again!

By - 10.12.2021

December 21, 2021 from 17:30

It is almost that time of year again! And no, we do not mean the build up to New Year, with all the thoughtful gifts and holidays that it brings. We mean the return of the dreadful air that comes with every winter, especially in Prishtina, where air pollution is often comparable to that of megalopolises like Beijing, Mumbai and New Delhi.

By now, we know what the main cause of the problem is: the burning of solid fuels (wood and coal) to heat homes and provide energy to the commercial sector. 

For Kosovo’s citizens, energy and heat come at a heavy price, with about 760 people dying prematurely every year as a result of respiratory infections, pulmonary diseases, different types of cancer, heart disease and stroke caused by air pollution (according to a 2019 World Bank analytical work). Nowadays these risks are exacerbated by COVID-19, which synergizes with other illnesses to produce debilitating and often fatal effects.  

Air pollution also comes with a huge economic cost related to health expenditures and labor productivity losses. The estimated cost associated with health damage from air pollution in Kosovo is on average 207 million euros, equivalent to 3.6% of the GDP in 2016.

With the upcoming winter being the first litmus test for the new government formed last February, this time of the year presents a first face-to-face with an age-old problem that has long troubled the people of Kosovo.

A draft law against air pollution was approved three months ago in the Assembly with the support of all parliamentary groups. What does this law entail? Will it lay the foundations to finally solve, or at least mitigate the problem? Or is an effective solution still something to dream of as we get through another difficult season of suffocation? What does the Ministry of Environment have planned? And what do experts of the field think about these plans?  

To get the discussion going, we have invited:

Letafete Latifi, Head of the Kosova Environmental Protection Agency
Besfort Kosova, Researcher at Balkan Green Foundation
Granit Gashi, Kosovo Contact for Heinrich Böll Foundation

The discussion will be moderated by K2.0 editor Aulonë Kadriu.

The talk will be held at Hub 2.0 on December 21 from 17:30. Translation to English and Serbian will be provided.

Guests are expected to wear masks and respect social distancing during the event.

This event is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.