Fiddlers Ferry coal-fired power station in Widnes, northern England. Pollution from coal plants alone costs the UK as much as £3.1bn each year in human health impacts. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters
Wednesday 19 October 2016 07.40 EDT
Group of health bodies says tackling climate change and air pollution linked to coal would improve health and reduce NHS costs
Groups representing Britain’s 600,000 doctors and health professionals say it is “imperative” to phase out coal rapidly to improve health and reduce NHS costs.
The doctors and nurses say tackling outdoor air pollution from traffic and power stations would cut climate emissions, reduce air pollution, and deliver a powerful boost to the nation’s health.
“Climate change and air pollution are both major health threats,” says the UK Health Alliance on Climate Change in a report. “They share a common driver: the combustion of fossil fuels. Pollution from coal plants alone costs the UK as much as £3.1bn each year in human health impacts.”
The group of 15 health bodies includes seven royal colleges of medicine and the British Medical Association.
Pollution from coal plants causes many serious health conditions including stroke, coronary heart disease and lung cancer. It disproportionally affects children and kills more people than road accidents , says the report.
The government has said it intends to phase out coal power plants by 2025 but the doctors say they are alarmed that no consultation papers looking at how this could be achieved have been published in more than a year.
“Ending the use of coal is a simple, no-regrets public health intervention. The rapid phase-out of coal fired stations is an imperative first step. Coal is the most carbon-intensive source of power generation, and is a key focus for reducing the risks of climate change.
Global Climate Change