BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Air pollution caused more than 100 billion euros ($134.95 billion) in health and environmental damage, highlighting the need for more renewables sources of energy, a report published on Thursday by the European Environment Agency found.
Europe’s 10,000 largest factories and energy facilities resulted in 102-169 billion euros in health issues, such as respiratory and cardiovascular problems, and environmental costs because of air pollution in 2009, the most recent available data.
Per citizen, the cost was between 200-300 euros.
“This analysis shows the significant impact of fossil-fueled power stations and the very high costs they impose on people’s health and the environment, making the case for introducing cleaner types of energy even more urgent,” European Environment Agency Executive Director Jacqueline McGlade said in a statement.
The power generation sector was the biggest contributor of damage costs, with 66-112 billion euros, the study showed. It covered the EU 27 member states as well as Norway and Switzerland.
A small number of facilities, 622 or 6 percent of the total number, represented 75 percent of the total damage costs resulting from air pollutants, such as heavy metals, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.
To tackle this problem, the EU plans to review EU air quality legislation in 2013, but resistance from the bloc’s member states is expected.
Germany, France, Italy, Poland, and the United Kingdom, which have the largest number of facilities, were identified as contributing the most in terms of total damage costs.
Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland and Romania were also responsible for a significant level of damage relative to their overall emissions levels.
Two British power stations, Drax and Longannet, were ranked five and 19 respectively out of the top 20 in terms of generating the highest pollution damage costs.
Germany, which has half of Europe’s top industrial installations and generates the highest levels of damage to health and the environment, had eight facilities — including those owned by Vattenfall and RWE in the list of the top 20, the report said.
The data was collected from the European pollution register and covered large power plants, refineries, manufacturing combustion and industrial processes. ($1 = 0.7410 euros)
Reporting By Christopher Le Coq