Old, inefficient and substandard coal power plants in the Western Balkans cause an estimated 3,900 premature deaths every year. Photo: Flickr.com / Keijo Knutas CC BY-NC

Western Balkans’ chronic coal pollution

Sixteen outdated coal power plants in the Western Balkans are a public health and economic liability for the whole of Europe, with people in the EU bearing the majority of the health impacts and costs, according to a new report by environmental organisations.

Air pollution from old, inefficient and substandard coal power plants in the Western Balkans is responsible for an estimated 3,900 premature deaths every year. The health issues these plants cause result in lost productivity and health costs of up to EUR 11.5 billion/yr.

In 2016, 16 of these plants spewed out as much sulphur dioxide (SO2) pollution as all the 250 coal power plants in the EU. Levels for particulate matter and nitrogen oxides are equally alarming.

The Energy Community Treaty sets a deadline for Western Balkan countries to comply with EU pollution control legislation by 2018. But meaningful action is still missing.

“It is in the interest of people across Europe – in the EU and the Western Balkan countries – to enforce Energy Community Treaty rules and to swiftly phase out this polluting, health-harming and outdated technology. Climate action, pollution control and air quality must also be prioritised in the EU accession process. As the EU moves to net zero greenhouse gas emissions, Western Balkan countries must also phase out coal, not just because it is a chronic air pollutant but also one of the biggest climate change culprits,” said Igor Kalaba at CAN Europe.

Source: HEAL press release, 18 February 2019. Link to the report: https://www.env-health.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Chronic-Coal-Pollu...

 

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