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Green Blog posted a article in Food & HealthAir pollution in Europe cost society up to €189 billion (about US $235 billion) in 2012 alone, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said in a new assessment report. Over the period 2008-2012 the estimated cost was at least €329 billion and possibly up to €1053 billion. The greenhouse gases and air pollution from Europe’s industry mainly comes from coal-fired power plants located predominately in Germany and Eastern Europe. The majority of the damage costs between 2008 and 2012 were caused by just 1 percent of Europe’s industrial facilities. The EEA research show that 26 of the top 30 industrial facilities that are polluting the worst and causing the highest damage are power-generating facilities which are primarily fuelled by dirty coal and lignite. Eight of the top 30 facilities are located in Germany and six are in Poland – two countries that rely heavily on coal. Germany and Poland are followed by Romania which has four of the dirtiest facilities; three are located in Bulgaria and the United Kingdom, two are in Greece; and the Czech Republic, Estonia, Italy and Slovakia all have one each. The combined cost for air pollution in Europe is equal to the gross domestic product (GDP) of Finland or half the GDP of Poland – a country which has opposed tougher EU and IPCC climate targets. The EEA calculated the costs of air pollution on health costs, damage to buildings, reduced agricultural yields, lost working days from sickness caused by air pollution, among other things. “While we all benefit from industry and power generation, this analysis shows that the technologies used by these plants impose hidden costs on our health and the environment,” Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director, said. “Industry is also only part of the picture – it is important to recognise that other sectors, primarily transport and agriculture, also contribute to poor air quality."” Another EEA report released earlier this month calculates the human costs of air pollution in European cities. The study show that while various policies have indeed improved air quality overall, air pollution continues to be a major environmental health hazard in Europe. EEA calculates that air pollution is responsible for causing workers to go sick, resulting in higher costs for health care systems. According to the environmental agency, air pollution is responsible for an estimated 400 000 premature deaths in Europe in 2011. "Air pollution is still high in Europe," EEA Executive Director Hans Bruyninckx said. "It leads to high costs: for our natural systems, our economy, the productivity of Europe’s workforce, and most seriously, the general health of Europeans." The two reports from EEA will come in handy for EU policymakers who are currently reconsidering proposals to tighten air pollution laws put forward last year by the former European Commission. According to documents obtained by Reuters, the new conservative European Commission, led by Jean-Claude Juncker, is considering to weaken or even scrap these proposed new air quality laws.
A new nationwide poll in Poland shows that 88 percent of its citizens want their country to shift to renewables, take serious action against climate change and for their political leaders to stop blocking important EU climate action. "The vast majority of Poles want their country to take strong action on climate change and shift to renewable energy. This is the result of a representative nationwide poll by TNS Polska in March 2014 commissioned by campaigning community Avaaz," writes Diana Maciąga over at 350.org. "This poll shows very clearly that Polish citizens want our country to take strong action on climate change and shift to renewable energy sources. Our government has to stop blocking EU climate action and we cannot allow private projects such as Elektrownia Północ, which put us on the worst possible path for our energy future." Read it: Poles want energy transition to renewables = no new coal!
Simon Leufstedt posted a article in Business & PoliticsSpeaking at a climate conference in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that inaction on global warming is "not an option" and called on nations to redouble efforts to secure an internationally binding climate change treaty. After being invited by the governments of Poland and Germany, environment and climate ministers from 35 countries "“ who together are responsible for around 80% of world carbon emissions - gathered earlier this week at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue conference in Berlin for a round of dialogue and informal negotiations ahead of the UN climate summit (COP19) in Warzaw, Poland, later this year. While stressing that all countries need to act, Merkel demanded immediate and bold action on climate change so that a binding climate treaty that limits emissions that cause global warming can be reached by 2015. "I'm under no illusion that there is a long road ahead," Merkel said at the conference. But "doing nothing only means that it will get a whole lot more expensive." These are indeed strong words for global action against climate change. But while Germany's carbon emissions rose by two percent last year, Merkel has so far seemed uninterested in fixing Europe's severely broken cap-and-trade program and failed to push for tougher climate policies for the European Union.