Greenpeace calls out the true cost of coal at coal industry event in Bali, Indonesia | Greenpeace Southeast Asia

Greenpeace calls out the true cost of coal at coal industry event in Bali, Indonesia

Press release - May 7, 2018
7 May, Bali, Indonesia - Major coal industry event Coaltrans started today in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, less than a week after the latest data from the World Health Organization showed that nine out of ten people are breathing air containing dangerous levels of pollutants.

“The rebound in the use of coal, oil and gas in 2017, which means not only increased CO2 emissions but also increased emissions of toxic air pollutants, risks people’s health and demands urgent action,” said Lauri Myllyvirta, Greenpeace Global Air Pollution Expert.

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia is already responsible for 20,000 premature deaths a year. If planned coal projects go ahead that figure could rise to 70,000 from illnesses such as lung cancer, strokes and respiratory disease, according to research from Harvard University and Greenpeace International.[1]

Fossil fuel experts are expected to gather, network and secure deals at the industry event held at the luxurious US$500 a night Westin Resort on Bali, an island currently fighting its own battle with coal. Local community groups in Celukan Bawang on the northern coast are opposing the development of a coal-fired power plant they say is impacting the area’s biodiversity and destroying farming and fishing livelihoods.[2]

On Wednesday, Greenpeace Indonesia activists also protested the passage of coal barges through the Karimunjava national park in Java. Greenpeace research and testimonials show the barges damage coral and impact fisherfolk in the community.[3] 

“The health and livelihoods of Indonesian people is at risk and meanwhile the coal industry is meeting in Bali to make deals that secure its own future. This country doesn’t deserve a future built on coal, it’s time the government choose people over fossil fuels and urgently transition to renewables,” said Hindun Mulaika, Climate and Energy Campaigner from Greenpeace Indonesia.

The latest data shows Jakarta’s ambient pollution (PM2.5) levels of 45ug/m3 exceed WHO guidelines by 3.5 times. Data is only available for Jakarta and Bandung, also highlighting a lack of monitoring and data disclosure in Indonesia. According to WHO, Austria reports data for more cities than all of Africa and Southeast Asia combined.[4] 

“Coal is a dying industry. Not only is global awareness of the health effects of air pollution at an all-time high, but major investors are shying away from putting their money into coal power plants in order to avoid investing in potentially stranded assets. They realise that the lifetime during which these plants will make money will be curtailed by future climate policy,” said Hindun.

Deutsche Bank, the biggest bank in Germany, has said it will stop financing coal projects as part of its commitments under the Paris agreement to tackle climate change. New construction of coal fired power plants fell 73% between 2015 and 2017, with China tightening restrictions and private finance leaving 17 construction sites abandoned in India.[5]

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Notes:

See here for Greenpeace Indonesia’s alternative factsheet on coal

  1. http://www.greenpeace.org/archive-international/en/press/releases/2017/Cancelling-new-coal-plants-in-Southeast-Asia-Korea-Japan-would-save-50000-lives-a-year/
  2. https://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/id/press/releases/RUPTL-2018-2027-Telah-Disahkan-PLTU-Celukan-Bawang-2x330-MW-Tetap-Menjadi-Proyek-Siluman/
  3. http://www.greenpeace.org/seasia/id/press/reports/Laporan-Kerusakan-Terumbu-Karang-Karimunjawa/
  4. http://www.who.int/airpollution/data/cities/en/

Contact:

Hindun Mulaika, Greenpeace Indonesia Climate and Energy Campaigner, +62 8118407113,

Rully Yuliardi, Greenpeace Indonesia Media Campaigner, +62 8118334409,

Premature death in Asia caused by coal plant

Coal is responsible for over 800,000 premature deaths per year globally and many millions more serious and minor illnesses. (https://endcoal.org/health/ )

Air pollution from coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia is already responsible for 20,000 premature deaths a year. If planned coal projects go ahead that figure could rise to 70,000 from illnesses such as lung cancer, strokes and respiratory disease, according to new research from Harvard University and Greenpeace International.

  1. Investment in coal vs RE

Investment in coal-fired plants fell sharply, with nearly 20 gigawatts (GW) less commissioned, reflecting concerns about local air pollution and the emergence of overcapacity in some markets, notably China, though investment remained elevated in India. The investment decisions taken in 2016, totalling a mere 40 GW globally, signal a more dramatic slowdown ahead for coal power investment once the current wave of construction comes to an end.

(https://www.iea.org/publications/wei2017/ )

Meanwhile,

The renewable energy market continues to make remarkable progress. Last year was the eighth in a row that global investment in renewables exceeded US$200 billion. Much of this can be attributed to falling costs for solar electricity, and to some extent wind power, which continues to drive deployment. (https://europa.eu/capacity4dev/unep/documents/global-trends-renewable-energy-investment-2018 )

  1. Divestment in coal in Europe

Investors may stop putting their money into coal power plants in order to avoid investing in potentially stranded assets. They shy away from investing in fossil fueled power plants as they realise that the lifetime during which these plants will make money will be curtailed by the future climate policy.

-        Deutsche Bank, the biggest bank in Germany, has said it will stop financing coal projects as part of its commitments under the Paris agreement to tackle global warming. Existing exposure to such projects will be gradually reduced.

(https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/01/deutsche-bank-pulls-out-of-coal-projects-to-meet-paris-climate-pledge )

-        Lloyd’s of London, the world’s oldest insurance market, will start to exclude coal from its investment strategy from 1 April. (https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/21/lloyds-of-london-to-divest-from-coal-over-climate-change )

-        German insurer Allianz, French investor Caisse des Dépôts, and French insurance corporation CNP Assurances have all made big commitments, reducing the coal exposure of more than €865 billion of assets and potentially mobilising more than €20 billion into green sectors. Allianz, which has annual revenue of €122 billion, announced it will no longer invest in mining companies and utilities that generate more than 30% of their sales or energy creation from coal. (https://www.euractiv.com/section/climate-environment/news/french-and-german-companies-pledge-massive-coal-divestment/ )

-        J.P. Morgan announced it would no longer finance new coal-powered plants in some wealthy nations (in 2016). (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-07/jpmorgan-won-t-finance-new-coal-mines-that-worsen-climate-change )

  1. Job creation in coal vs RE

Rising automation in extraction, overcapacity, industry consolidation, regional shifts, and the substitution of coal by natural gas in the power sector are resulting in job losses in the fossil-fuel sector in some countries. Moreover, climate policies and the rise of renewable energy may add pressure on the sector.

Solar PV has created the highest number of employment compared to other renewable energy sources, totalled to approximately 3.1 million jobs across the world. It is a 12 percent increase from its employment creation in 2015 and will continue to increase (IRENA, 2017). Solar PV creates as many as 10 jobs/MW, much higher than coal power that creates 1 job/MW.

Employment creation from renewable energy (2012-2016)