Poland's Krakow bans coal burning to heat homes

WARSAW (Reuters) - Local authorities in Poland's southern city of Krakow banned its citizens from heating their homes with coal and wood after a report showed the historical town's atmosphere is among the worst polluted in Europe.

Supporters said the decision would have a positive impact on the health of citizens and the condition of the monuments. Opponents argued some inhabitants cannot afford heating with more expensive fuels like gas or oil.

Poland, which hosted U.N. climate talks this year, generates 90 percent of its electricity from coal.

"This resolution is a precedent on a national scale, it will introduce many changes in Poland and the region," local deputy speaker Wojciech Kozak said in a statement.

"The ban hits the poorest group. We burn coal not because we like it, but because we cannot afford anything else," said Krystyna Nosek, who represents some citizens.

According to a European Environment Agency report earlier this year, Krakow is the third most polluted European city.

Poland has been one of the most reluctant among European Union members to toughen the existing goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020.

(Reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko; editing by David Evans)