Air Pollution

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Significant sources of air pollution, besides CO2, are the burning of fossil fuels and biomass. Smoke particles and oxides of Sulphur and Nitrogen contribute to heart and lung disease which kill millions of people very year.

Europe's Dark Cloud

Europe's Dark Cloud: How coal-burning countries are making their neighbours sick World Wildlife Fund, Climate Action Network Europe, Health and Environment Alliance, Sandbag;

The ‘Dark Cloud’ report quantifies for the first time the cross-border health impacts of air pollution from coal use in electricity generation in the European Union. It also provides an in-depth assessment of the 30 plants with the highest negative health and climate impacts.

Report: Germany suffers more coal-linked deaths than rest of EU James Crisp; EURACTIV.com; 5 Jul 2016

Analysis of 257 of 280 coal-fired power plants in the EU found that their 2013 emissions caused over 22,900 deaths, tens of thousands of illnesses from heart disease to bronchitis, and up to €62.3 billion in health costs.
3,630 people in Germany died from coal-related illnesses in 2013, according to the report by the Health and Environment Alliance, Climate Action Network Europe, WWF European Policy Office and Sandbag.
1,860 deaths were traced to coal plants in Germany, which is moving to a low-carbon energy system. The Energiewende (energy switch-over) will require the retirement of most, if not, all coal powered generation in Germany.
The remaining 1,770 premature deaths were traced to pollution caused by coal plants in other EU countries. Polish pollution claimed 630 of those lives, the research claims.
Germany buys cheap coal-fired energy from Poland to pick up the slack left by the abandonment of nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster.
But its domestic coal is also responsible for deaths in other member states, according to the report Europe’s Dark Cloud.
Germany is one of the top five countries whose coal power plants cause the most harm abroad. Poland causes 4,690 premature deaths abroad, Germany 2,490, Romania 1,660, Bulgaria 1,390 and the UK 1,350.

Nuclear

Kharecha & Hansen: Prevented Mortality

Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power Pushker A. Kharecha, James E. Hansen; Environmental Science and Technology; 2013

Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning. On the basis of global projection data that take into account the effects of the Fukushima accident, we find that nuclear power could additionally prevent an average of 420 000–7.04 million deaths and 80–240 GtCO2-eq emissions due to fossil fuels by midcentury, depending on which fuel it replaces. By contrast, we assess that large-scale expansion of unconstrained natural gas use would not mitigate the climate problem and would cause far more deaths than expansion of nuclear power.

Lang

Nuclear Power Learning and Deployment Rates; Disruption and Global Benefits Forgone Peter A. Lang; Energies; Dec 2017

This paper presents evidence of the disruption of a transition from fossil fuels to nuclear power, and finds the benefits forgone as a consequence are substantial. Learning rates are presented for nuclear power in seven countries, comprising 58% of all power reactors ever built globally. Learning rates and deployment rates changed in the late-1960s and 1970s from rapidly falling costs and accelerating deployment to rapidly rising costs and stalled deployment. Historical nuclear global capacity, electricity generation and overnight construction costs are compared with the counterfactual that pre-disruption learning and deployment rates had continued to 2015. Had the early rates continued, nuclear power could now be around 10% of its current cost. The additional nuclear power could have substituted for 69,000–186,000 TWh of coal and gas generation, thereby avoiding up to 9.5 million deaths and 174 Gt CO2 emissions. In 2015 alone, nuclear power could have replaced up to 100% of coal-generated and 76% of gas-generated electricity, thereby avoiding up to 540,000 deaths and 11 Gt CO2. Rapid progress was achieved in the past and could be again, with appropriate policies. Research is needed to identify impediments to progress, and policy is needed to remove them.

How We Screwed Up Nuclear Power RONALD BAILEY; Reason; MAY 2018

In a counterfactual scenario featuring increasing uptake of nuclear power from 1976, Lang calculates that by 2015 it would have replaced all coal-burning and three-quarters of gas-fired electric power generation. Thus, over the past 30 years we could have substituted 186,000 terawatt-hours of electricity production, avoiding up to 174 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions and 9.5 million air pollution deaths. Cumulative global carbon dioxide emissions would be about 18 percent lower, and annual global carbon dioxide emissions would be one-third less.

Anti-nuclear policies increased global carbon by 18% and added 9.5 million air pollution deaths Brian Wang; Next Big Future; 19 May 2018

Lang calculates that by 2015 it would have replaced all coal-burning and three-quarters of gas-fired electric power generation. Thus, over the past 30 years we could have substituted 186,000 terawatt-hours of electricity production, avoiding up to 174 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions and 9.5 million air pollution deaths. Cumulative global carbon dioxide emissions would be about 18 percent lower, and annual global carbon dioxide emissions would be one-third less.