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 is pleased to see that Montenegro takes action to protect health in the region and elsewhere with yesterday’s announcement by the Government that it would drop its plans to build the new coal power plant Pljevlja II.
This decision should be the first step towards quitting coal and health-damaging power production, and it should be taken as a model decision by other coal dependent countries in the neighborhood and further.
With abandoning the plans to build the new coal power plant in Montenegro, the Government will save up to 15 million EUR in health costs per year for the population of Europe and the Western Balkans countries.
Even though new coal plant would have had to operate under much stricter air emission standards than the current one, it would still have polluted the air with over 1,000 tonnes of Sox, 1,000 tonnes of NO2 and 20 tonnes of PM every year and it would lock in those emission number for the next generations.
HEAL has been pointing out for years that Montenegro has the huge opportunity to prevent at least 600 premature deaths/year that the new coal power plants would have caused, and our recommendations were finally heard.
This means good news for health but also for the EU accession process. We see that one of the Balkan countries, that made the most progress with the negotiations for EU accession, is taking its obligations to comply with strict air emission standards and legislation seriously . HEAL will continue to accompany and encourage the Balkan countries on their journey to a coal-free future.