An early phase out of coal plants around the world could help avoid over 14.5 million premature deaths from air pollution over the next three decades, a new analysis published said
Coal plant | health | Research
Last Updated at May 24, 2022 12:51 IST
An early phase out of coal plants around the world could help avoid over 14.5 million premature deaths from air pollution over the next three decades, a new analysis published on Tuesday said, delivering an economic benefit of $16.3 trillion.
This equates to saving around 425 million years of life, or gaining an additional 20 days for each of today’s 7.9 billion global population.
The assessment, set out in a blog post and accompanying interactive webtool by researchers in Germany at NewClimate Institute, shows the enormous scale of public health benefits of urgently phasing out operating and planned coal plants in 24 countries, covering over 90 per cent of the global fleet.
The researchers show that existing coal plants around the world are contributing to more than 900 thousand premature deaths per year. One of the study’s authors, Harry Fearnehough, stresses the critical importance of the synergies between taking action to combat climate change and driving major improvements in health around the world.
“We’re all aware how damaging coal-fired generation is for the climate and that as a global community we need to rapidly wean ourselves off this dependence on coal to meet our energy needs. The tool we’re publishing today offers in numbers a global overview of the health benefits we can realise by delivering an urgent energy transition, showcasing impacts from the national level, right down to the detail of individual coal units.”
The study and online tool show how global adverse health impacts from coal-fired electricity generation are dominated by China.
China accounts for over half of the global coal fleet today. Operating coal plants in China alone are causing over 720,000 premature deaths per year and the researchers estimate that the operation of existing and planned coal plants in China could cause in the order of 21 million premature deaths over the coming three decades without measures to curtail their construction and use.
Other major coal powerhouses in Asia would also be responsible for significant premature loss of life if they continue to build and operate coal plants over the coming decades.
India has the world’s second largest coal fleet and a high population density, which typically means a more sizeable population is exposed to the local air pollutants from the plants.
Reena Skribbe, a co-author of the study, noted that it is not just India and China that need to take action to reduce their coal generation.
“Whilst China and India are clearly the biggest players, our research shows that there is still significant potential to prevent premature deaths in all of the 24 countries we have analysed and feature in the AIRPOLIM webtool. As a starting point, around 3.2 million premature deaths could be avoided across all the countries we cover, simply by stopping building any new coal plants today.”
The researchers invite others, including policy makers, as well as investors and civil society organisations to use the AIRPOLIM tool as a starting point to inform their decisions and ensure the critical health aco-benefit’ to decarbonising power sectors is used to mobilise action.
(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.