Coal-fired power stations in Greece, Germany and Spain top a new table of Europe's dirtiest electricity plants, the environmental group WWF International said on Tuesday.
In its new "Dirty Thirty" ranking of power station pollution in the European Union, WWF said Greece's Agios Dimitrios plant was the worst, followed closely by Frimmersdorf in Germany and Abono in Spain.
It ranked plants across the 25-nation EU according to their efficiency - a calculation based on the number of grammes of carbon dioxide (CO2) emitted per Kilowatt hour of electricity generated.
CO2 is the biggest of the greenhouse gases that trap the sun's heat and cause Earth's temperature to rise.
The pollution results from burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal.
"The power sector is responsible for 37% of all man-made CO2," said Imogen Zethoven, head of the WWF's power campaign.
"Coal-fired power stations rank dirtiest, because they use the most CO2-intense fuel. To switch off global warming we have to replace them with cleaner alternatives, such as gas and renewables," she said, referring to solar, wind and water power.
Other Greek, German and Spanish power stations, as well as one at Turow in Poland filled out the top ten.
The remainder of the list included more Polish and German plants, and their equivalents in Britain, the Czech Republic, Italy and Portugal.
Germany is home to five of the ten dirtiest plants, and four of those are run by the country's giant RWE, which is the biggest CO2 emitter in the European power sector, said the WWF.
The ranking showed that only half a dozen companies account for 19 of the 30 dirtiest power stations - besides RWE, the include Vattenfall (Sweden), Enel (Italy), Endesa (Spain), E.ON (Germany) and EDF (France).
Not all the plants are in the company's home country.
Over the next two decades, many of the "Dirty Thirty" are set to be decommissioned, noted the WWF, calling this a "historic window of opportunity to cut CO2 pollution."
Replacing them all with new coal power stations would result in a 13.5% cut in their total CO2 emissions by 2030, it said.
A shift to gas would slash their CO2 by 47.8%, while replacing them with renewable energy sources would result in a 73.4% cut.
Under the UN's Kyoto Protocol, industrial countries that have ratified the treaty are required to trim pollution of carbon gases by a deadline of 2012 as compared with a 1990 benchmark.
But this effort falls far sure of what is needed to avoid climate change, which could stoke a global disaster, scientists say.
The deal does not include the world's top polluter, the United States, nor developing countries such as China and India, where economic growth is driving up emissions.
- 107 Energy