According to a new study, smoke and greenhouse gases from major industrial sites across Europe have cost the continent between 277 and 433 billion euros.
The European Environment Agency report concludes that half of this pollution is caused by just 211 facilities scattered across the EU.
She estimates that the annual cost is around 2-3% of total EU GDP and higher than for many individual Member States.
The briefing also shows that a relatively small number of facilities are still responsible for most of the pollution.
Only 211 locations of the 11,655 facilities that reported emissions caused 50% of the pollution in 2017.
Thermal power plants, which are mostly operated with coal, cause the greatest damage to health and the environment.
According to the report, 24 of the 30 most polluting plants are thermal power plants, 15 of them in Western and Northern Europe and a further 9 in Eastern and Southeastern Europe.
The report found that the most polluted power plant is in Poland, while four of the top 5 are in Germany.
It is also noted that “air pollution does not respect national borders or political objectives”.
“Harmful pollutants are emitted in a time zone, and weather patterns and atmospheric chemistry determine whose problem they become,” the report said.
“The added value of the EU is to make it a common problem with common ambitions and solutions, and to bring Member States together as a group with a vision for the next generation.”
The briefing is based on the costs of air pollution from European industrial plants 2008-2017, a report by the European Topic Center on Air Pollution, Transport, Noise and Industrial Pollution (ETC / ATNI) of the EEA.
It examines the societal costs caused by industrial emissions from different locations and sectors across Europe, with a strong focus on health impacts.
“The European Green Deal is just one recent example of how the discussion is changing as awareness of the costs and benefits of industrial activities to society grows,” the report added.
“The way forward is just as important in changing our ways as is the narrative and the way we work together.
“Change is not only possible, but is demanded by politics, business and society. Since the last report in 2014, the outlook has shifted significantly, which is underlined by a greater awareness of environmental issues and market trends, from circular economy, carbon offsetting and impact investing to the sharing economy. “