Health groups call on the leaders of the Western Balkan countries to harmonize national air quality standards with the World Health Organization Global air quality guidelines. Health experts should be actively involved in these decision-making processes to ensure the timely integration of public health measures into environmental policies. Compliance with WHO recommendations brings multiple benefits – reduced incidence of chronic diseases and premature deaths, reduced overall health costs and, most importantly, better health and higher productivity of people.
HEAL, together with Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, the WWF European Policy Office and Sandbag launched a new report entitled ‘Europe’s Dark Cloud: How coal-burning countries are making their neighbours sick’
For the first time, the report analyses how the harmful dust caused by coal plants travels across borders and the effect this has. It reveals that in 2013 emissions were responsible for over 22,900 premature deaths, tens of thousands of cases of ill-health from heart disease to bronchitis, and up to EUR 62.3 billion in health costs.
The five EU countries whose coal power plants do the most harm abroad are Poland, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and the UK. The five countries most heavily impacted by coal pollution from neighbouring countries, in addition to that from their own plants are Germany, Italy, France, Greece and Hungary.
Coal pollution and its health impacts travel far beyond borders, and a full coal phase-out in the EU would bring enormous benefits for the health of people across Europe. The report shows that each coal power plant closed provides a major boost for the health not only of those living nearby, but also for those abroad.