Europe’s Dark Cloud: How coal-burning countries are making their neighbours sick.

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 1.47.06 pmPublished by HEAL, WWF European Policy Office, Climate Action Network Europe and Sandbag, July 2016

The ‘Dark Cloud’ report quantifies for the first time the cross-border health impacts of air pollution from coal use in electricity generation in the European Union. It also provides an in-depth assessment of the 30 plants with the highest negative health and climate impacts.

It provides yet another strong argument for a rapid coal phase-out, showing that the health and climate impacts of coal power plants are immense, harmful and extremely costly to European countries, with the overall economic costs of health impacts from coal combustion in the EU estimated at up to 62.3 billion Euros. The fact that coal pollution travels means there is no ‘safe spot’ while any coal plant is running. Putting an end to coal-burning power generation across Europe will bring huge benefits for citizens, environment and the economy both at home and abroad. Protecting public health and averting dangerous climate change are two important challenges of our time, which our policy-makers need to tackle head on. Phasing out the use of coal will contribute to both and on top of this, will also have benefits for economic development and the creation of new jobs.

Burning coal creates toxic particles of fine dust, which can be carried a long way away from the power plant, beyond the borders of the countries where the plants are situated. People living nowhere near a coal plant can inhale these particles and suffer the health consequences. This report assesses the cross-border health impacts of coal-burning for power generation for the first time.

The cross-border impact of coal pollution means that each plant closed provides a major boost for the health not only of those living nearby but also for citizens in neighboring countries, as well as practically everyone across the continent.  Closing all of the EU’s coal-fired power plants could prolong 22,900 lives annually. Over half of the EU’s premature deaths from coal can be attributed to just 30 plants – the so called  ‘Toxic 30’. The same goes for the top 30 most climate damaging coal power plants, which contribute almost half of all of the CO 2 emissions from the EU coal fleet – the ‘Dirty 30’. These plants should be closed as a priority. The cross-border impact of coal pollution, be it health or climate, shows why all citizens in Europe and beyond have a shared interest in putting an end to its use, irrespective of where the plant operates. This is a true Europe-wide cause that unites us all.

For access to the full report please follow the link here.