Comply or close: how Western Balkan coal plants breach air pollution laws and what governments must do about it
Study | 10 December 2019
In 2018, pollution control legislation under the Energy Community Treaty finally obliged the Western Balkan countries to start reducing the choking air pollution from their coal power plants.
Action was badly needed. In 2016, these 16 plants emitted as much sulphur dioxide and dust as 250 plants from the EU. As a result, it is estimated that they are responsible for around 3,900 premature deaths annually, spread between the region and nearby EU countries.
Yet the countries’ preliminary emissions figures for 2018 show that several Western Balkan plants have increased – not decreased – emissions of dust and SO2 since 2016.
Given the alarming findings on SO2 and dust, this report recommends redoubled efforts to invest into desulphurisation equipment across the region. In order to achieve efficiency of investments and maximise their benefits for human health, new pollution control equipment should ensure that plants reach the latest EU standards – the so-called LCP BREF, rather than just the obligatory minimum ones.