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More effective coal regulation needed to improve air quality and save lives

More effective coal regulation needed to improve air quality and save lives

A report published today calls for more effective coal regulation to improve air quality and reduce the number of premature deaths caused by coal burning in Europe.

The report, ‘Lifting Europe’s Dark Cloud: How cutting coal saves lives’, claims that the number of deaths could be reduced from 22,900 to 2,600 deaths per year if tougher regulations are enforced, and outlines two clear policy messages to achieve this goal:

Coal plants should use the best technology
Using the best technologies would ensure plants improve their environmental performance and reduce their contribution to levels of air pollution.

Air pollution policies must be more strictly enforced
The report claims that more than half of the coal power plants in Europe have ‘permission to pollute’ beyond the limits set in the Industrial Emissions Directive; as a result, the report calls for more strict enforcement of air pollution policies to ensure plants are meeting public health targets.

Professor Bert Brunekreef, Chair of the ERS Environment and Health Committee, has endorsed the plans set out in the report: “As a medical society, we notice time and again the disconnect between an acknowledgement of the dangers of air pollution and the willingness of policymakers to take concrete steps to reduce emissions and clean up our air.

“Introducing and fully enforcing 'Best Available Techniques' standards through the EU’s 'Industrial Emissions Directive' offers a clear means of protecting our health and reducing the level of harmful pollutants and gases in the atmosphere. Applying these standards will also contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change.”

Before the end of 2016, the EU and Member States will have the opportunity to adopt improved environmental performance standards for coal plants to ensure clear progress is made towards improving air quality across Europe.

Learn more about outdoor air pollution and air quality with our factsheets:

Learn more about the importance of breathing clean air at the Healthy Lungs for Life website.

Access the report