Silent Killers: why Europe must replace coal power with green energy

RWE Brown Coal Power Plant NiederaussemBraunkohle Kraftwerk Niederaussem. © Greenpeace

RWE Brown Coal Power Plant NiederaussemBraunkohle Kraftwerk Niederaussem. © Greenpeace

Published in June 2013 by Greenpeace International

This report investigates the health impacts of each of the 300 operating large power plants in the EU, as well as the predicted impact of 50 new projects if they come online. Using a sophisticated health impact assessment model, the report estimates that pollution from coal-fired power plants in the EU resulted in thousands of premature deaths, shortening the lives of Europeans by an estimated total of 240,000 lost life years in 2010. In countries with heavy coal use, the results indicate that more people are killed by coal than in traffic accidents. The research estimates that a total of approximately 5 million working days were lost in 2010 due to illnesses and disability associated with pollution from coal-fired power plants. The estimated negative health impacts from coal power plant pollution in Europe in 2010 – measured in decreased life expectancy – was equivalent to the damage to health from the smoking of 22 million cigarettes by European citizens every day of that year. The 11% increase in coal burning in Europe from 2009 to 20126 will have caused a similar increase in the negative impacts on the population’s health, amounting to a potential increase of more than a thousand deaths throughout the EU.

Download the full report.