22 May Coal responsible for over 700 premature deaths in Spain
In 2014, pollutant emissions from 15 Spanish coal-fired power plants were responsible for: 459 hospital admissions due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, 709 premature deaths, more than 10,500 asthma attacks in children and economic losses up to €1.7 billion
According to a report published by the International Institute for Law and the Environment (IIDMA), urgent action from the Spanish Government is needed to reduce air pollution and close all coal-fired power plants by 2025.
“Protecting our health and preventing the premature deaths of hundreds of people is a government’s duty. This new scientific evidence shows it is urgent Spain announces a progressive coal phase out plan to tackle climate change and ensure the implementation of the Paris Agreement.” – Ana Barreira, director of IIDMA.
A new report has revealed the extensive health impacts of Spain’s coal industry. “A dark outlook: the health impacts of coal-fired power plants in Spain during 2014” counts 459 hospital admissions due to cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and 387 new cases of chronic bronchitis in adults are just some of the issues the report tracks. Children are one of the most vulnerable groups – in 2014, emissions were responsible for 10,521 new cases of asthma in children and 1,233 cases of bronchitis.
As well as the huge costs of healthcare, these serious health impacts also affect the economy via poor work attendance and an ensuing reduction in productivity. The report counts more than 163,326 lost working days and 747,686 restricted activity days. Economic losses linked to coal pollution total up to €1.7bn per year.
IIDMA environmental engineers and one of the report’s authors Massimiliano Patierno said: “The northwestern region of Spain – in particular Asturias, Castile and León, where most of Spain’s coal-fired power plants are located – is without doubt one of the most affected by air pollution. If you live in the Asturias region, your mortality risk from particulate matter pollution (PM2.5) is six times as high as it would be if you lived in Madrid.”
IIDMA Director Ana Barreira said: “We need to see urgent action from the Spanish Government, including at the regional and local level, to reduce air pollution and to comply with WHO recommendations. Coal-fired power stations which are under the Transitional National Plan and are still running after 2020 must commit to reduce their emissions in line with EU law.”
The report also underlines that more investments in renewable energies, which are increasingly competitive with regards to other conventional technologies, are required to move towards a new economic model that protects our health, tackles climate change and generates green jobs.