Magazine article Newsweek

Photos: Deadly Air Pollution May Be the Price for New Jobs in Greece; Money from the EU for New Coal Plants Contradicts Its Plans to Reduce Air Pollution

Magazine article Newsweek

Photos: Deadly Air Pollution May Be the Price for New Jobs in Greece; Money from the EU for New Coal Plants Contradicts Its Plans to Reduce Air Pollution

Article excerpt

Byline: Dante A. Ciampaglia

The belching smokestacks of Ptolemaida's coal-fired energy plant are a sign of opportunity for Greeks who lost their jobs after the country's financial meltdown in 2007. For many others, however, they're a symbol of the European Union's hypocrisy.

In April 2017, the EU approved new regulations aimed at cutting toxic emissions from burning dirty fuels, such as coal. "Air pollution is the prime environmental cause of premature death in the European Union," Enrico Brivio, a spokesman for the European Commission, told Reuters. Yet five months earlier, as part of its continuing austerity measures, the bloc provided Greece with 1.75 billion euros ($1.85 billion) to build two new coal plants. Per The Guardian, they would emit more than 7 million tons of carbon dioxide a year. A major backer: Germany, the EU's most powerful member and a self-proclaimed green energy leader.

"The EU is trying to get everything from poor European countries like Greece and the Balkans," says photojournalist Anna Pantelia. "Give them all the refugees. Take all the coal from there."

Pantelia, whose work includes photographing Greece's refugee crisis, spent five days at the Greek Public Power Corp. …

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