The Unpaid Health Bill: how coal power plants are making us sick



Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), 2013

The continued reliance on coal in Europe comes with a price that decision makers are hardly aware of: the unpaid health bill. This health bill is paid by individuals, national health care budgets, and by the economy at large due to productivity losses caused by the burning of coal to generate energy. Emissions from coal power plants in Europe contribute significantly to the burden of disease from environmental pollution. The brand-new figures published in this report show that European Union-wide impacts amount to more than 18,200 premature deaths, about 8,500 new cases of chronic bronchitis, and over 4 million lost working days each year. The economic costs of the health impacts from coal combustion in Europe are estimated at up to €42.8 billion per year. Adding emissions from coal power plants in Croatia, Serbia and Turkey, the figures for mortality increase to 23,300 premature deaths, or 250,600 life years lost, while the total costs are up to €54.7 billion annually.

These costs are mainly associated with respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, which are two important groups of leading chronic diseases in Europe. Together, coal power plants in Poland, Romania and Germany are responsible for more than half of the total health impacts. Substantial impacts are further attributed to coal combustion in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Greece, Serbia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.

Read the full report here