Greece must end its reliance on dirty coal

Greece must end its reliance on dirty coal

It isn’t a great surprise to learn that a director of Greece’s Public Power Corporation believes in exemptions for lignite – an especially polluting type of coal burnt at Greek power plants . However, the claim that Greece is “among the best performers in emission reductions” must not go unchallenged.In a recent report, Lifting Europe’s Dark Cloud: How cutting coal saves lives, we revealed how Greek lignite plants, responsible for hundreds of premature deaths and thousands of cases of respiratory illness every year, have in fact been granted special exemptions to EU limits set in the industrial emissions directive. As a result, when it comes to emissions of sulphur dioxide , nitrous oxides , dust and mercury, Greek plants are undoubtedly among the worst performers in Europe.Comparing the emission levels of lignite plants in Greece and Germany is revealing: Greek levels are almost four times higher for sulphur, twice as high for nitrous oxides and 17 times higher for dust. Over five years, Greek exemptions will allow an extra 78 kilotons of SO2 and 21 kilotons of dust. It would take Dutch coal plants more than 100 years to emit that much dust.Furthermore, Greece is now seeking to extend exemptions for two highly polluting lignite plants: Kardia and Amyntaio. Resulting additional health costs will cost the Greek taxpayer billions of euros.If we are serious about protecting human health, the environment and the climate, the road to a fossil-fuel free future must remain a one-way street. Lignite can have no place in that future.• In its response to your report about Greece’s desperate plea to gain free emission allowances, the Greek Public Power Corporation avoids the main issue: its two new lignite plants won’t be economically viable unless they are allowed to emit CO2 without paying, a fact that even GPPC’s CEO admits.Greece’s numbers are hardly representative of a “best performer”. It is 17th in EU-28 in the Climate Change Performance Index, and is one of only two EU countries with a growing energy intensity, mainly due to lignite’s share in national greenhouse gas emissions (34%, second largest in EU…

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