A UK government study has found that pollution from power plants poses a “significant threat” to public health and the environment.
The Government has said that the emissions of CO2, nitrogen dioxide, mercury, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide are far greater than the emissions from other types of fossil fuels.
The research, by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSVPB), also found that coal-based power plants emit more nitrogen dioxide and sulphate pollution than natural gas or nuclear power plants.
The report also found significant air quality problems at coal-power plants, including high levels of PM2.5, nitrogen oxides, carbon dioxide and particulate pollution.
The study, published by the journal Nature, said that coal plants are one of the biggest polluters of the UK.
It said that over time the CO2 emissions are being absorbed by the atmosphere, which then causes higher concentrations of PM 2.5 and NOx, which can exacerbate respiratory illnesses and air pollution.
It found that the pollutants are linked to respiratory illnesses in children, the elderly, and workers who have to work at the power plant, which contributes to the health problems.
A spokesperson for the RSPB said that it had “serious concerns” about the government’s response to climate change.
“The RSPIB’s analysis shows that, in the past 20 years, CO2 pollution from our electricity generation has grown by a staggering amount, and it is one of our top causes of air pollution, as well as one of Europe’s biggest sources of air pollutants,” she said.
The RSLPB said the government should be looking at alternatives to coal for generating electricity.
“Instead of investing in coal-powered power stations, the UK should be investing in cleaner, more sustainable and renewable sources of energy such as wind, solar and biofuels,” the spokesperson said.
The RSPAB has previously warned that coal is the “worst polluter” of the world and that the industry has “failed to deliver on their commitments”.
It called for the UK to abandon its current fossil fuel-fired energy system.
“We have seen the full impact of coal on climate change, as coal is a major contributor to the rise in CO2 concentrations, with air pollution reaching levels that are at or above the European Union’s target for a 50 per cent reduction in CO 2 by 2050,” the RSPAZB said.
“It is important that we now focus on what we can do to reduce emissions and to minimise the harmful impacts on the environment and the health of future generations.”
The report comes amid the EU’s drive to phase out coal-burning by 2030.
The European Commission said it will use its “unprecedented powers” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per percent by 2030, as it prepares to formally announce the phase-out of coal-driven power generation.