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EU Commission Vice President talks health in climate meetings

HEAL welcomes the emphasis placed on health implications by EU Commission Vice President Sefkovic (right) at the EU-Serbia High Level Conference on Climate Change last month.

In a letter ahead of the high level meeting, HEAL urged Sefkovic to underline the importance of high ambition on climate mitigation, which not only brings benefits to the health of Serbians but also Europeans as a whole.

HEAL’s call to EU Commission Vice President for Energy Union Maros Sefkovic paid off when he stressed during the meeting that public health was the top of “threats and implications” of climate change. HEAL was pleased when he mentioned HEAL in a tweet @HealthandEnv Thank you for making #health a joint priority!’

Serbia relies heavily on coal power generation for energy production and plans to increase its capacity even more. Coal-fired power plants are both a major contributor to carbon emissions and air pollution. According to the EU Commission, Serbia has the second worst air quality levels in Europe, resulting in premature deaths, ill-health and lost productivity. The health costs of coal power generation alone in Serbia are estimated to be up to 4.98 billion EUR per year.

HEAL believes now is the time for Serbia to show climate leadership, and to facilitate the switch to a low-carbon economy. Any set target for 2030 GHG emissions lower than 40% compared to 1990 levels is insufficient. Unfortunately the Serbian Government is not aiming high enough and their proposed goal of 9.8 percent is inadequate in tackling climate change. Such a goal would miss out important benefits for the health of citizens in Serbia and Europe.

Following the meeting, HEAL contacted MEPs on the EU-Serbia delegation, highlighting the need for them to point to the significant co-benefits of tackling climate change for health. MEPs were encouraged for their future exchanges with the Serbian government, to call for more ambition climate action in Serbia and encourage the turn away from investments into coal power generation.

Originally posted on 13 July 2015

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »

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HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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