€8.5 billion in health costs from Balkan coal plants prompt call for EU policy rethink
- New study quantifies the public health costs of polluted air from existing coal-fired power plants in the Western Balkans at up to 8.5 EUR billion per year
- The region is home to seven of the 10 most polluting coal-fired power stations in Europe. Fumes from these plants contribute to air pollution, which is a serious health risk in these countries. Polluted air is associated with unnecessarily high rates of premature death, chronic lung disease, heart conditions and asthma
- Europe’s leaders should support countries in the region by encouraging a move away from coal to improve health and tackle climate change
Today, HEAL released the first-ever estimates of the huge health costs associated with air pollution from coal power plants in the Western Balkans. The report provides an estimate of the total health damage from air pollution released from existing coal power plants in five Western Balkans for the European region, and for Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Kosovo. The estimated health costs of future coal plants in the Western Balkans are also given.
Currently home to 15 existing coal plants with an installed capacity of 8.1 gigawatt (GW), the Western Balkans could see the installation of 24 new projects with 7.8 GW capacity.
The findings are being presented at a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia. With health costs of up to 3.1 EUR billion per year, existing coal plants in Bosnia and Herzegovina contribute about one third to the total health costs.
The costings of the significant health damage should prompt a rethink on the EU’s policy approach to the region, with European decision-makers increasing financial support for a healthy energy future and pulling their weight for air quality and pollution control in the region. The Western Balkan policy-makers should now make decarbonisation their priority and support the rapid phase out of coal power generation.
Press release EU launch of the Unpaid Health Bill – English
Press release Bosnia and Herzegovina launch of the Unpaid Health Bill English – Bosnian
Press release Serbian launch of the Unpaid Health Bill English - Serbian
Response by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) to statements made by Minister Antic, Serbian Minister of Energy on HEAL’s report - English - Serbian
The Unpaid Health Bill Reports and Factsheets
Technical report: The Health Impacts of coal-fired power stations in the Western Balkans
English - Serbian
The Unpaid Health Bill EU factsheet
English - Serbian
Serbian factsheet of the Unpaid Health Bill
English - Serbian
Bosnian factsheet of the Unpaid Health Bill
Macedonian factsheet of the Unpaid Health Bill
English - Macedonian
Montenegro factsheet of the Unpaid Health Bill
English - Montenegrin
Kosovo factsheet of the Unpaid Health Bill
English - Albanian
Video by Dr. Mike Holland on the methodology to calculate the health costs of coal power generation (with subtitles in Serbian)
From left to right: Garret Tankosic-Kelly of SEE Change Net, Professor Dr. Zehra Dizdarević, a pulmonologist and clinical allergologist, and Vlatka Matkovic Puljic, Health and Energy Officer, Balkans Region, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).
HEAL’s European coal and health campaign
In March 2013, HEAL launched the first ‘Unpaid Health Bill – How coal power plants make us sick’, highlighting that the health costs of coal-fired power stations add a financial burden to the European population of up to €42.8 billion a year.
The report includes testimonies from leading health advocates, medical experts and policy makers on why they are concerned about coal, as well as developing recommendations for policy-makers and the health community on how to address the unpaid health bill and ensure that it is taken into account in future energy decisions.
Download the full report here - EN- DE - POL - RO - TU - Western Balkans - Technical report and EU factsheet - Bosnia
Download the Executive Summary here - EN - DE - POL - RO - TU
Download the coal and health postcard here - EN - POL
Press release EN - FR - ES - IT - RO - DU - DE - POL - TU
Media coverage updated 2 April 2013 here
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The Unpaid Health Bill marked the beginning of a coal and health campaign in which HEAL continues to work closely with medical, health and climate advocacy groups, especially in countries where coal is a particular threat to health. Since the start of the campaign, the report has been launched in Romania (December 2013), Poland (June 2013), Germany (April 2013), Turkey (May 2015) and most recently in the Western Balkans (March 2016).