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Climate report: How Bulgaria could improve health and save money

Ground-breaking report reveals massive health benefits from higher climate change targets

Press release, Cancun, Mexico, 6 December 2010 - Public health in Bulgaria would benefit up to 291 million Euros per year by 2020 if the European Union decides to strengthen their climate change targets, according to figures released today by Health and Environment Alliance and Health Care Without Harm Europe.(1)

Figures for Bulgaria are released today to coincide with "Health Day" in Cancun and as a stimulus to Bulgarian negotiators at the climate change talks. (2) They are provided as an extension to a ground-breaking report published in Brussels in September 2010.

The report - Acting now for better health: A 30% target for EU climate policy - commissioned by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH Europe), provides the first-ever estimates of the health savings for different Member States should the EU move from the current 20 per cent target to a 30 percent target on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. (3)

For the EU as a whole, the anticipated benefits could be as high as €30.5 billion. These savings would be on top of the up to €52 billion health gains anticipated as a result of emission cuts to reach the EU’s current 20 per cent target.

The study offers conclusive evidence that cleaner energy and cleaner air, associated with an immediate move to 30% domestic cuts in greenhouse gases by 2020, would go a long way to paying for itself in better health through Europe.

The new figures for Bulgaria show that cleaner air resulting from the achievement of a higher European target would result in public health benefits of between €101 million and €291 million per year from 2020. (4)

This would include:

  • An increase in life expectancy of 1,300 years spread across the population.
  • 125,000 fewer days of restricted activity
  • 12,000 fewer days when people need to use respiratory medication
  • 1,400 fewer consultations for upper respiratory symptoms and asthma
  • 29,000 fewer working days lost annually due to cardiac and respiratory problems.

Bulgaria would do well compared to many other EU countries as a result of a stronger EU target on emissions reductions. It ranks 15th in among the EU27 on health benefits (see chart below).

Health benefits for EU countries - Benefits per year by 2020 (upper bounds):

  • Germany €8.1 billion
  • Poland €4.0 billion
  • France €3.5 billion
  • Italy €3.4 billion
  • Romania €1.4 billion (NEW)
  • Czech Republic €1.3 billion (NEW)
  • Netherlands €1.1 billion
  • Greece €1.0 billion (NEW)
  • Hungary €1.0 billion (NEW)
  • Belgium €0.9 billion
  • Spain €0.9 billion
  • UK €0.9 billion
  • Slovakia €0.7 billion (NEW)
  • Austria €0.6 billion (NEW)
  • Bulgaria €0.3 billion (NEW)
  • Portugal €0.3 billion (NEW)
  • Other EU countries €1.1 billion (NEW CALCULATION)
  • (Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Slovenia, Sweden) -* Total (all EU countries) €30.5 billion

Read the full figures for Bulgaria here

The report, Acting now for better health: A 30% target for EU climate policy, goes beyond recent European Commission figures on health benefits, which did not provide national figures and calculated health benefits on the basis of increased mortality due to exposure to air pollution only. The analysis covers the costs of both death and ill-health, such as restricted activity due to heart and lung conditions, hospital costs, consultations, and medication. More information from

Dr Pendo Maro, Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH Europe) and Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) at or + 32 495 281 494 (in Cancun)

Diana Smith, Health and Environment Alliance, Mobile: +33 6 33 04 2943 (in Paris) NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) aims to raise awareness of how environmental protection improves health. It brings together more than 60 organizations working at the European level. Website: and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) is a global coalition of more than 440 organizations in 52 countries working with the health sector to reduce its impact on human health and the environment while advocating for global environmental health.

2. More details of "Health Day", 6 December 2010 at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 16) in Cancun, Mexico will be available at from 5 December 2010.

3. The report - Acting now for better health: A 30% target for EU climate policy - commissioned by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm Europe (HCWH Europe) was published on 14 September 2010. It included figures for the EU as a whole plus Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK. The full report and a background briefing are available at and Original press release is available at

4 . The figures for Bulgaria, which are released for the first time today, are pasted below.

Last updated on 15 June 2011

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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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