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.
In an open letter to the German ministry of economy as well as the ministry of environment, the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) joined six large German NGOs as well as the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) in calling for a speedy implementation of a new EU regulation which is set to curb air pollution from power plants, the so-called LCP BREF.
The signatories condemn actions by four German states, led by the Prime Minister of Saxony Stanislaw Tillich, who asked the federal minister of economy Brigitte Zypries to file a legal complaint against the European Commission for publishing the LCP BREF in its current form.
In their letter the NGOs stress the importance of Germany cutting its emissions as the second largest contributor to coal emissions and related health damage in the EU. They call on the government to respect the EU decision on the LCP BREF which was made under Comitology rules as a delegated act already in April 2017, when the German government had voted against it. Arguments of large costs for operators from required retrofits had then been voiced by representatives of the German government, mainly with regards to a new standard for lignite-fired power plants. The same arguments are now re-circulated by four German states that still depend on lignite mining: Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt, Brandenburg and North Rhine Westphalia.
Most lignite plants in Germany do not yet comply with the upper range of the LCP BREF for nitrous oxides of 175 milligram per cubic metre. NGOs stress, however, that many of these plants will have reached the end of their lifetime and will have to be closed down for reasons of climate mitigation around 2021, the year by when the new standards will be effective for operators.
Read the letter in German here.