2016/05/17 Japan’s massive coal plans to cause over 10,000 premature deaths new research shows

プレスリリース - 2016-05-17
Tokyo, 17 May 2016 - Massive plans to expand Japan’s coal-fired power plants will cause at least 10,000 premature deaths nationally and the power plants would emit as much toxic air pollution as 21 million passenger cars, according to the first study of its type released today by Greenpeace Japan and Kiko Network[1]. These new coal-fired plants, by far the largest expansion plan among advanced economies, would also lock in carbon emissions for decades.

“6 large coal-fired power plants are planned within 100km of Tokyo. This massive expansion of coal power generation so close to huge urban areas like Tokyo is simply insane. We could save thousands of lives cut short from air pollution if the government chose to embrace renewable energy over dirty coal,” saidLauri Myllyvirta, Senior Global Campaigner, Coal, Greenpeace.

“Japan is already considered the worst performer among the G7 when it comes to phasing out coal. If we are to have any chance of limiting average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, fossil fuels must be kept in the ground - not pumped into the air over our cities.”

Detailed atmospheric modeling was carried out to pin down the potential health impacts of these emissions. Of the projected 260 premature deaths per year in Tokyo, 180 are due to exposure to PM2.5 and 80 due to exposure to NO2. Over a plant’s typical operating life of 40 years, this would imply a total of 6,000-15,000 premature deaths and 1,200 low birthweight births.

New coal-fired power plants around the cities of Osaka and Hyogo would are also projected to cause 4,000-11,000 premature deaths over 40 years.  In addition, the projected particle pollution emissions from the new power plants around Tokyo would be equivalent to 13 million Japanese passenger cars, and from the power plants around Osaka equivalent to 14 million cars.

“Governments that have signed the Paris agreement must now legislate to keep fossil fuels in the ground and strongly support policies which lead to 100% renewable energy,” said Kimiko Hirata, International Director, Kiko Network.

“Following the Fukushima disaster and subsequent shutdown of its nuclear fleet, Japan has been setting global records for energy consumption reduction, while renewables such as solar, have been booming. Japan needs to give renewables priority access to the grid and stop wasting resources trying to restart nuclear plants and expanding dirty coal.”

While new coal power plants generally emit less air pollutants than older ones, their flue gases still contain high concentrations of SO2, NOx and particle pollution. SO2, NOx and dust emissions all contribute to toxic PM2.5 particle levels, increasing the risk of diseases such as stroke, lung cancer, heart and respiratory diseases in adults, as well as respiratory symptoms in children.

Notes to editors:

[1] “Air quality and health impacts of new coal- fired power plants in the Tokyo-Chiba and Osaka-Hyogo regions”
English version can be found here
Japanese version can be found here

Media contacts:

Kiko Network: email: , phone: +81-3-3263-9210
Chisato Jono, Communications, Greenpeace Japan, email: , mob: +81 (0)80-6558-4446
Greenpeace International Press Desk, email: , phone: +31 (0) 20 718 2470 (available 24 hours)