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Health groups call to end fossil fuel subsidies

This Saturday, 14 November, civil society organisations from all over the world, including HEAL, will issue an urgent call to end all public financing for fossil fuels (coal, gas, oil).

In 2009, the leaders of the G20, the twenty most powerful economies in the world, pledged to end fossil fuel subsidies. But not much has happened since then.

In May this year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that governments still give a staggering 5.3 trillion USD - 5,300,000,000,000 - annually for fossil fuels, with coal being the most heavily subsidised.

Fossil fuel companies receive more financial support than all governments combined spend on health.

The call to end fossil fuel subsidies comes on the eve of the G20 leaders Summit in Antalya, Turkey.

The Turkish government, which currently holds the G20 Presidency, should particularly hear the call by health, environmental, climate and many other organisations. After China and India, Turkey is the country with the third largest planned investments into coal power generation. About 80 new coal fired power plants are in the pipeline, and a quadrupling of current capacity is foreseen.

HEAL, together with Turkish health groups, recently warned that the government’s plans would lead to skyrocketing health costs for current and future generations. HEAL’s report “The Unpaid Health Bill – how coal power plants in Turkey make us sick” found that the currently existing power plants already cause health costs of up to 3.6 billion EUR annually. In addition to releasing large amounts of CO2, an average large coal plant also emits thousands of tons of hazardous air pollutants, which harm people’s health and strain the healthcare system and the economy. The average lifetime of a coal plant is fourty years, meaning that climate and health harmful emissions are locked in for decades.

More and more health groups and experts around the world are speaking up on the need to phase out coal power generation, including the renowned medical journal The Lancet, which recently called for a rapid phase out worldwide.

The members of the Turkish Right to Clean Air Platform sent a letter to all Heads of States and Governments of G20, condemning Turkey’s rush to coal and urging all governments to act for a healthy energy future. This includes giving up the construction of new coal-fired power plants, creating a clear roadmap to ending fossil fuel subsidies and taking leadership in adopting a binding climate agreement in Paris.

In the run up to G20, HEAL’s Air Quality and Energy Consultant in Turkey, Deniz Gümüşel (left) spoke on the health cost of coal power generation in Turkey at the Istanbul Climate Forum.

More information:

IMF: How large are global energy subsidies

HEAL report The Unpaid Health Bill in Turkey

English translation of the letter by the Turkish Right to Clean Air Platform

Last updated on 23 November 2015

About HEAL

The Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) is a leading European not-for-profit organisation addressing how the environment affects health in the European Union (EU). We demonstrate how policy changes can help protect health and enhance people’s quality of life. Read more »


HEAL has over 70 member organisations, representing health professionals, not-for-profit health insurers, doctors, nurses, cancer and asthma groups, citizens, women’s groups, youth groups, environmental NGOs, scientists and public health institutes. Members include international and Europe-wide organisations, as well as national and local groups. Read more »

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