Turkey is pushing ahead with plans to double its coal power capacity with 30 new coal power stations despite major health impacts and costs linked to the country’s existing coal fleet. A new analysis by the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) finds that the health impacts of coal pollution in Turkey currently generate economic costs of up to 10.9 billion EUR (or up to 99.37 billion Turkish Lira) annually, which is equivalent to up to 27% of its annual health expenditure. HEAL and seven leading Turkish health and medical organisations call for a coal phase out, as an essential step to protect people’s health, achieving cleaner air and tackling climate change.
According to HEAL’s new Chronic Coal Pollution Turkey report, the 28 coal plants operating in 2019 caused a significant health burden, with nearly 5,000 premature deaths, 26,500 cases of bronchitis in children, 3,000 preterm births, and over 1,4 million workdays lost to illness. The report also details numbers on health impacts and costs of mercury, given that coal plants are a top emission source. Mercury exposure may reduce children’s IQ, and consequently decrease their educational and working achievements over a lifetime, with implications for society and the economy overall.
“Pollution from coal power plants puts everyone at risk of cardiovascular diseases, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer as well as acute respiratory infections. But it particularly affects those most vulnerable – pregnant women, children, the elderly, those already ill or poor. There’s a real need to increase the understanding of how energy choices are linked to our health”, explains Anne Stauffer, Director for Strategy and Campaigns at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).
In Turkey, the health and climate toll of emissions from coal-fired power stations are currently not considered in the country’s energy policy-making processes. Chronic Coal Pollution Turkey puts forward a set of recommendations for policy-makers and health professionals on achieving an energy transition for better health and protecting the climate.
Asst. Prof. Dr. Melike Yavuz from HASUDER said: “For an informed and transparent dialogue, the Turkish government has to start reporting power plant and sectoral emissions data. Health and medical organisations have to engage more in economic and public health debates on the health impacts and costs of coal and energy production, and health ministries and health actors should have a place at the table in energy, climate, and clean air decisions.”
Funda Gacal, Consultant on Energy and Health, Turkey for HEAL, added: “New coal power plant projects have to be abandoned swiftly, and a coal phase out planned, as part of a commitment to preventing disease and future pandemics. Moving towards healthy energy is also a necessity if we are to limit the worst health impacts from climate change.”
Read the full report here.
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Chronic Coal Turkey FAQs can be found here
 Supporting organisations
- Association of Public Health Specialists in Turkey (HASUDER)
- Association of Doctors for Environment in Turkey
- Climate Change Policy and Research Association (CCPRA)
- Turkish Medical Association (TMA)
- Turkish Thoracic Society
- Turkish Respiratory Society (TÜSAD)
- Yuva Association
HEAL briefing on mercury and health in the Western Balkans
EEA report Mercury in Europe’s environment
Elke Zander, Communications and Media Coordinator, email@example.com +32 487 596 539
Funda Gacal, Consultant on Energy and Health, Turkey, firstname.lastname@example.org +90 506212186
Lauri Myllyvyrta, Center for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) – technical report, email@example.com