The European Union has announced its plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and “de-carbonize” the energy sector, reducing the air pollution that iscontributing to chronic respiratory disease in millions of people.
Yet within the Industrial Emission Directive (IED) , which underwent a second reading in the European Parliament in late April, it appears that some discussions are leaning in favor of emissions-emitting industry interests over public health and the fight against climate change.
In 2001, the E.U. Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD) was redesigned to gradually limit emissions from facilities such as coal-fired power plants. Yet even though these facilities have had 15 years to get ready to comply with a tougher nitrogen oxide emission limit value starting in 2016, some E.U. countries and their power companies are pushing for more time.
They are also arguing that without derogations, or partial appeals of the law, additional investment would move power supplies in the direction of more carbon-intensive technologies. Many of the E.U. member states are building coal-fired power stations; at least 60 new plants are either on the drawing board or under construction.
Environmental and health organizations argue that new plants must be “carbon-capture ready” and that the operators of large combustion plants should make the economic investment to bring the facilities in line with so-called Best Available Techniques (BATs).
BATs were introduced in Europe with the 1984 Air Framework Directive applying to air pollution emissions from major industrial installations. In 1996, the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control Directive (IPPC) was introduced, and BATs were applied to the combined control of air, water, and soil pollution.
What’s really hindering the E.U. Parliament is confusion caused by an article by James Thornton appearing in the European Voice about whether member states are entitled to introduce more stringent measures than those set at the E.U. level.
Several non-government organizations, including Bellona Europa , the World Wildlife Fund, and the European Environmental Bureau, are working on clarifying that it is legal for E.U. member states to develop national CO2 emissions performance standards for the largest emitters such as power plants.
According to the European Respiratory Society, respiratory diseases are one of the leading causes of premature deaths in Europe. In a press release from the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health that took place in Parma, Italy in March, ERS president Nilos Siafakas, said, “Unless we act now, one in six premature deaths worldwide will be caused by lung disease by 2020.”
And according to research from the World Health Organization , close to one billion people in the world already have chronic respiratory diseases ranging from asthma to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. The ERS and other international respiratory societies have declared 2010 “The Year of the Lung” in order to increase awareness of the importance of lung health.
Article by Julie Mitchell appearing courtesy Celsias.