Benefits from closing coal plants larger than expected

A coal processing plant located near Pittsburgh in the US was closed in 2016. The plant had produced coal-coke for steelmaking for about 100 years. The closure immediately reduced air pollution for the local communities. Sulphur dioxide decreased by 90%, arsenic by 66%  and particle pollution also improved. A recent study has followed the health effects of the closure and saw an immediate 42% decrease in emergency room visits for heart problems and similar effects for stroke. These effects further declined in the three years that followed, until the end of study, showing that the closure led to long-term health improvements. Two communities that are distant from the plants were used as control populations and did not show similar changes. Prof George Thurston, of New York University Grossman School of Medicine, who led the study, said:

“We found much larger cardiac health benefits from the plant’s closure than expected. This provides solid confirmation that fossil fuel-related air pollution is far more toxic than other types of air pollution. Policymakers have been greatly underestimating the local and immediate human health benefits that will occur as we phase out fossil fuel processing and combustion in our cities and towns.”

Iopscience, 31 July 2023

In this issue

Editorial: EU climate target still not adapted to climate reality

On 8 September, the UN once again issued a report showing how governments are failing to take adequate action to implement the promises they made in the Paris Agreement. The so-called Synthesis Report on the Technical Dialogue from the First Global Stocktake showed how governments are good at making ambitious collective commitments but fail to take the right action at home to turn these collective pledges into a reality.

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The importance and role of forests in Poland

A varity of forest types in Poland play an important role in the country's ecosystem and cultural heritage.

Poland is home to a variety of forest types, which cover an area of nearly 9.3 million hectares and account for 29.6% of the country’s total land area. These forests play an important role in the country’s ecosystem, economy and cultural heritage. The forests are dominated by coniferous species, which together cover 76.6% of the area. These include pine, larch, spruce and fir. Deciduous species appear on 23.4% of the area.

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