Theory and Policy in the Context of EU Enlargement and Economic Transition
- The Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei series on Economics, the Environment and Sustainable Development
Edited by John W. Maxwell and Rafael Reuveny
Chapter 11: Energy and Sustainability in Central Europe: A Decade of Transition in Review
11. Energy and sustainability in Central Europe: a decade of transition in review* Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, László Paizs and Radmilo Pesic INTRODUCTION As Frank Carter, a lecturer in Geography at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies at the University of London, stated, the communists had a cynical approach to pollution. ‘They monitored air and water pollution faithfully, but did little to curb it . . . State-run factories, the biggest polluters, found it far cheaper to pay the ﬁnes than to introduce control measures’ (Hinrichsen, 1998). This is why, in the 1990s, life expectancies in the so-called ‘Black Triangle’, the areas of heavy industry and coal mining of Poland, then Czechoslovakia and East Germany, were three to six years below the average for Europe (Moldan and Schnoor, 1992), while levels of particulates and sulphur dioxide were more than twice to three times WHO air quality guidelines (Hofmarcher, 1998). The Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe left tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands seriously ill in Belarus, the Ukraine and the rest of Europe. Although the oﬃcial Soviet data about the expected number of deaths is only 31 (Savchenko, 2000), many more estimates predict a far greater number, as high as half a million (Lenssen, 1994). Per capita sulphur emissions in 1989 were two to six times higher than in OECD countries (WRI, 1992), as demonstrated in Figure 11.1. Carbon emissions per unit of economic output also ranked among the highest in the world. There were other serious pollution problems as well,...
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