By Irene Casado Sánchez
The air pollution limits established in the latest draft of the European Union (EU) pose a danger to public health and the environment, warns the NGO. According to the organization's study, "under the framework of the Directive on Industrial Emissions, the EU is? updating the atmospheric emission limits of large industrial facilities, including coal and lignite thermal power plants ”, and not for the better. Without restrictions or control techniques, deaths from lung and cardiovascular diseases could multiply. Cases of acute bronchitis and asthma attacks would violently affect the most fragile population, children.
“Emissions from coal-fired power plants in the EU were responsible for 22,300 premature deaths in 2010,” recalls a study by the University of Stuttgart for Greenpeace published in 2013. Exposure to toxic particles has become the biggest threat environmental versus health on the European continent. Air pollution not only increases the risk of death from heart and respiratory diseases, it also shortens life expectancy by 6 to 12 months in most countries in the region.
This dramatic panorama can be circumvented. “Deaths and illnesses as well? like the resulting costs, they can be avoided if the EU does its job, ”says Greenpeace. Establishing “responsible standards” and using “the best techniques available in lignite and coal plants under viable economic conditions” are the fundamental pillars to avoid this environmental catastrophe.
In this same sense, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is committed to "the use of techniques that prevent or reduce emissions and, therefore, improve European atmospheric quality". A scenario that promises to end thousands of lives does not allow concessions.
At the center of this controversy is the 'Seville Process'. It is a chain of decision-making aimed at establishing the new European limits on toxic atmospheric emissions: sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, mercury and suspended particles. Once approved, this regulation will be binding for the next ten years. "The EU process does not take into account the high costs and the negative impact that insufficient limits against air pollution will entail," Greenpeace stresses in its study. According to the organization, the line imposed by the EU is not based on the protection of public health, but rather on avoiding "proposing emission limits that force plant operators to make large investments."
Coal has been one of the main sources of energy for centuries. Energy in exchange for irreparable damage to health and the environment. Greenpeace and the European Environment Office have urged the EU to phase out carbon and "lead the change towards a profitable future based on a 100% renewable system".
If you do not invest in the necessary techniques to stop and reduce pollution, the consequences will literally take their toll. According to data from the European Environment Agency, the increased health risk due to air pollution would cost about 52,000 million euros to European citizens over ten years. Devising regulations that favor the large coal industry in the short term means endangering public health in the very near future. Investing in the improvement of control techniques is to ensure or, at least, try to protect the well-being of millions of citizens. Catastrophe can still be avoided. The EU has the responsibility in its hands.