ISSUE NO. 28: Impacts of pollution on our health and the planet: The case of coal power plants

United Nations Environment Programme ; United Nations Environment Programme (20/11/2017)

Climate change is a reality that threatens the future of life on our planet. For years, nature has provided irrefutable evidence of these changes: the floods in South Asia and hurricane Harvey in Houston during the summer of 2017 are dramatic examples of the damage caused by climate change. Scientists around the world have pointed to human activity as one of the major causes. There is therefore an urgent need to take measures to keep the rise in average global temperature well below 2°C (with respect to pre-industrial levels), in accordance with the Paris Agreement. At the same time, it is essential that we deal with air pollution from greenhouse gases (GHG) and other pollutant gases such as particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), nitrogen oxides (NOX) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). These have serious impacts on our health and the environment, as well as on the economy. The main sources of pollution include industrial activities, the transport and energy sector. Pollution from the latter two is primarily the result of burning fossil fuels; coal being the main polluting fossil fuel in the energy sector. Despite being the most polluting source, coal still plays a significant role in the production of electricity around the world.

Discussion paper