Air pollution from the 10,000 largest polluting facilities in Europe cost citizens up to €170 billion in 2009, according to a new report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) which analysed the costs of harm to health and the environment caused by air pollution.
Half of the total damage cost (between €51 and 85 billion) was caused by just 191 facilities.
The report, 'Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe', provides a list of the individual facilities that contribute the most harm.
“Our analysis reveals the high cost caused by pollution from power stations and other large industrial plants,” Professor Jacqueline McGlade, EEA Executive Director, said.
“The estimated costs are calculated using the emissions reported by the facilities themselves. By using existing tools employed by policy-makers to estimate harm to health and the environment, we revealed some of the hidden costs of pollution. We cannot afford to ignore these issues,” added Professor McGlade.
The industrial facilities covered by the analysis include large power plants, refineries, manufacturing combustion and industrial processes, waste and certain agricultural activities. Emissions from power plants contributed the largest share of the damage costs (estimated at €66–112 billion).
Other significant contributions to the overall damage costs came from production processes (€23–28 billion) and manufacturing combustion (€8–21 billion). Sectors excluded from the EEA analysis include transport, households and most agicultural activities – if these were included the cost of pollution would be even higher.
Key findings of the report, include:
* Air pollution by the facilities covered by EEA’s analysis cost every European citizen approximately €200-330 on average in 2009.
* Countries such as Germany, Poland, the United Kingdom, France and Italy, where a high number of large facilities are located, contribute the most to the total damage costs. However, when damage costs are weighted in an attempt to reflect the productivity of national economies, the ordering of countries changes significantly. The emissions from countries such as Bulgaria, Romania, Estonia, Poland and the Czech Republic are then relatively more important with regard to the damage costs.
* A small number of individual facilities cause the majority of damage costs. Three quarters of the total damage costs were caused by the emissions from just 622 industrial facilities – 6 % of the total number. The facilities with emissions associated with a high damage cost are in most cases some of the largest facilities in Europe which release the greatest amount of pollutants.
* Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions contribute the most to the overall damage costs, approximately €63 billion in 2009. Air pollutants, which contribute to acid rain and can cause respiratory problems - sulphur dioxide (SO2), ammonia (NH3), particulate matter (PM10) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) - were found to cause €38-105 billion of damage a year.
Ultra-efficient wind turbine under development