Coal burning costs UK between £2.5bn and £7bn from premature deaths

Coal burning costs UK between £2.5bn and £7bn from premature deaths

Deaths related to emissions from coal cost the UK economy between £2.47bn and £7.15bn in 2013, according to a comprehensive overview of coal production in Europe.

The figure, which includes mortality costs from coal-related respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses, such as heart disease and lung cancer is linked to the 395 kilotons of pollutants emitted by UK coal plants. Europe as a whole had equivalent mortality costs of between €21bn and €60.6bn, according to the authors.

The report, from the NGO umbrella group Climate Action Network Europe (Cane), also found that the UK was the third largest emitter of carbon dioxide from coal burning after Germany and Poland.

“The British government has not caught up with reality,” Kathrin Gutmann, Cane’s coal policy coordinator told the Guardian. “It urgently needs a proactive strategy to manage a coal phase out. Energy utilities are already starting to spend billions of euros to shed some of their coal plants but governments like the UK are just hiding behind this power sector transformation.”

Last month, Germany began a process of mothballing its largest coal plants. The new survey says that it is still Europe’s biggest coal subsidiser though, coughing up €30bn between 1999 and 2011.

In the UK, coal was responsible for some 87 million tonnes of CO2 emissions last year – 16% of all the country’s greenhouse gas output – a figure eight times higher than in France.

Cane calculated the health costs by mapping Europe’s 280 coal power plants and then multiplying their polluting emissions by the European Environment Agency’s estimate of the cost of mortality associated with those emissions.

 

Source: The Guardian

Date: September 2015

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