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Burning of Coal costs the UK between 2.5bn and 7bn from premature deaths - 11th September


Premature deaths related to the emissions released 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 financial figure 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. 

Kathrin Gutmann (Coal Policy Coordinator) stated that “The British government has not caught up with reality, 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.”

Coal was responsible for 87 million tonnes of CO2 emissions last year in the UK last year (equivalent to 16% of all country’s greenhouse gas output – a figure estimated to be 8 times high than France).

Julia Huscher, (Coal Officer for Health and Environment Alliance) stated that “We can now see that British power plants are responsible for very substantial emissions of classic air pollutants – nitrogen oxides and sulphur oxides – and for the average European, that translates into more chronic illnesses like bronchitis, heart disease and asthma, and more premature deaths,”

UK air quality standards have been in breach of EU standards for years. An estimated 29,000 Britons die prematurely each year from long-term exposure to air pollution. In April the Supreme Court ordered the government to produce a plan for tackling the air pollution problem.

That plan is due to be presented this month, however environmental lawyers say that the roll-back of green policies could delay the clean up of Britain’s skies. Since the election, the UK has cut renewable energy subsidy schemes.

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