Produced with high-resolution atmospheric modelling, this new research reveals how air pollution from each of Europe’s 103 coal companies is damaging public health. To produce this report, Sandbag has joined forces with Europe Beyond Coal, Climate Action Network Europe, Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe and the European Environmental Bureau. 

This report finds that just ten companies were responsible for an estimated two-thirds of the health damage caused by coal power plants in 2016. These companies caused a modelled 7,600 premature deaths, 3,320 new cases of chronic bronchitis and 137,000 asthma symptom days in children. This leads to an estimated 5,820 hospital admissions and over two million lost working days.

Four of the ten most toxic companies have their main coal plants in Germany:RWE, EPH, Uniperand Steag. This is no coincidence: Germany burns more coal than any other country in Europe, and has done little to reduce air pollution from its coal plants in the last decade. Three of the ‘toxic ten’ are in Poland:PGE, ENEAandZE PAK. The final three are:ČEZin the Czech Republic,Endesain Spain, andBulgarian Energy Holdingin Bulgaria.

The report makes recommendations for companies and governments.

Companies must:

  • Stop all investment into hard coal and lignite with immediate effect. This includes not only new plants, but also means ceasing investments into existing plants. It also includes stopping all investments in new and existing mines – to put an end to the destruction of forests and villages, and forced relocations.
  • Commit to the closure of all hard coal and lignite plants by 2030 or earlier. Companies should not sell their coal plants but rather take responsibility for closing them, and closure dates should be announced to plan for a just transition.
  • Stop lobbying for coal; especially to weaken and seek derogation from “BREF” air pollution limits and campaign for capacity mechanisms.
  • Work proactively with stakeholders to speed a just transition away from coal to minimise the societal and economic impacts of coal closures.
  • Adopt business plans that ensure the company genuinely contributes towards compliance with the Paris Climate Agreement aim of temperature rises not exceeding 1.5°C.

Governments must adopt policies to ensure companies retire their coal plants by 2030. This should include:

    • Transition to 100% renewables: Commit, including in the 2030 national energy and climate plans, to a rapid-build programme of renewable generation, as well as storage, demand-response, interconnectors and investment in energy efficiency.
    • Policies to make coal pay its way: tighter air pollution limits, higher carbon pricing, and a cessation of subsidies to coal including capacity mechanisms.
  • A legally-binding coal phase-out date and a just transition for affected communities and workers.

Credit and further information at:

Report,  Published 20th November 2018:

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