Lifting Europe’s Dark Cloud - How cutting coal saves lives
Effective emissions limits could save thousands of lives every year, yet more than half of coal power stations in Europe are operating with ‘permission to pollute’ above limits set in EU law. These are the findings of a new report ‘Lifting Europe’s Dark Cloud: How cutting coal saves lives’ published today by the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, WWF and Sandbag.
‘Lifting Europe’s Dark Cloud’ shows how improving environmental performance at European coal power stations could save 20,000 lives every year. By setting and enforcing pollution limits in line with the best industry-recognised, tried-and-tested techniques, the annual number of premature deaths caused by burning coal could be reduced from 22,900 to 2,600 deaths.
• Full report - ’Lifting Europe’s Dark Cloud: How cutting coal saves lives’
• Press release - EN - DE - PL
• About the authors (European Environmental Bureau, Health and Environment Alliance - HEAL, WWF, CAN Europe, and Sandbag)
• Quotes from the authors and the medical community
Europe’s Dark Cloud - How coal-burning countries are making their neighbours sick
HEAL, together with Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, the WWF European Policy Office and Sandbag launched a new report entitled ‘Europe’s Dark Cloud: How coal-burning countries are making their neighbours sick’
For the first time, the report analyses how the harmful dust caused by coal plants travels across borders and the effect this has. It reveals that in 2013 emissions were responsible for over 22,900 premature deaths, tens of thousands of cases of ill-health from heart disease to bronchitis, and up to EUR 62.3 billion in health costs.
The five EU countries whose coal power plants do the most harm abroad are Poland, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and the UK. The five countries most heavily impacted by coal pollution from neighbouring countries, in addition to that from their own plants are Germany, Italy, France, Greece and Hungary.
Coal pollution and its health impacts travel far beyond borders, and a full coal phase-out in the EU would bring enormous benefits for the health of people across Europe. The report shows that each coal power plant closed provides a major boost for the health not only of those living nearby, but also for those abroad.
• Full report – ‘Europe’s Dark Cloud: How coal-burning countries are making their neighbours sick’
• Press release – EN – DE – PL– TR – LI – RU – NL – FR
• Info-graphics, sample tweets (in English and in Polish) and video of coal pollution spreading
• Info-graphics in Polish
• Polish Frequently Asked Questions on the Europe’s Dark Cloud report
• Europe’s Dark Cloud Report in Poland (July 2016)
• German summary of Europe’s Dark Cloud report
• Europe’s Dark Cloud Report in Turkish Media (July 2016)
• Presentation of ‘Europe’s Dark Cloud’ key findings - Anne Stauffer, Deputy Director, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL)
• Response - Professor Paul Wikinson, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
• Recording of Press conference, Monday 4 July 2016
Medical professionals support the Dark Cloud report – testimonies available here
“Air pollution is responsible for millions of deaths worldwide. Higher temperatures resulting from climate change will exacerbate the problem. The good news is that reducing our use of fossil fuels – including harmful emissions from coal - provides a unique opportunity to improve air quality and mitigate climate change thus protecting health from the greatest public health challenge of this century,” says Dr Roberto Bertollini, Chief Scientist and World Health Organization (WHO) Representative to the European Union.
“The external costs to health from coal power generation are bigger than for any other energy source. The costs of reducing greenhouse gases are partially paid back because of lower health costs,” according to Professor Paul Wilkinson, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).
“This report brings further insights into the harm coal power generation does to our health. It shows us why everybody should be concerned about coal power plants. The harmful emissions from each single plant can cause significant health impacts and health bills. A full coal phase-out is needed,” according to Dr Michal Krzyzanowski, former World Health Organization expert on air quality and currently Visiting Professor, Environmental Research Group, King’s College London.
“The media has recently drawn public attention to car exhausts but other sources, such as emissions from coal power plants, are also very important. The ‘Dark Cloud’ report makes clear that coal power plants are a considerable source of air pollution. In addition, the report quantifies the adverse health impact and health costs of transboundary emissions from coal power plants for the very first time. This provides a further argument to phase-out coal in the energy mix,” says Dr Joachim Heinrich, LMU, Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, University Hospital Munich.