Greenpeace: China commits to cut coal emissions, India should follow suit

Air pollution from coal - fired plants caused 1,20,000 deaths in India

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Press release - September 13, 2013
New Delhi, September 12, 2013: The Chinese Government today announced a target to reduce the burning of coal in three key provinces, accounting for about 1/3rd of the country’s coal use. Coal is responsible for nearly 80% of China's CO2 emissions. The Chinese government's plan to improve air quality in the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong regions will significantly slow down China’s coal consumption growth, setting an important precedent that should be followed by countries with massive coal consumption, including India.

The cap comes in response to an unprecedented air pollution crisis that has hit China in recent years. In 2011, China's death toll caused by particulate matter generated from coal-based energy was estimated at 1.2 million, with 2,000 premature deaths reported in Beijing alone.[1]

"China's cap on coal use in response to its air pollution crisis raises the bar for our government", said Aishwarya Madineni from Greenpeace, India. "Mandatory pollution controls for existing and under-construction coal plants are urgently required to protect Indian lives. Instead of deepening our dependence on coal, we need a moratorium on new coal plants and ambitious policy incentives to unlock the huge potential India has in efficiency and clean renewable energy systems."

The Chinese action plan requires the country's most polluted provinces to "strive to achieve a negative coal increase" in five years. Three provinces, Beijing, Hebei and Shandong, have already pledged to reduce coal consumption by 73 million tonnes, or 10% from 2012 levels, by 2017. These three provinces consumed more coal in 2011 than all of the European Union.

In India coal generates over 60% of our electricity, and the resulting air pollution is leading to death and diseases. Research by Urban Emissions in March 2013, estimated an annual death toll of over 100,000 due to air pollution from India's coal-fired power plants, with annual health costs estimated at 23,000 crore rupees.[2]

The maps attached with this release are generated based on the existing data from the Coal Kills report[3] . The death toll as a result of poor air quality in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Singrauli and Nagpur is 2400, 1600, 1200, 1180, 500 respectively.[4]

Existing standards for particulate matter are far below than the standards adopted by China, Japan or the other Western countries. The 12th and the 13th five-year plans aim to further

increase India’s dependence on coal, which will significantly increase the health hazards to the population in the areas around the coal-fired power plants.

“Indian air quality standards are four to twenty times worse than those in China.3 Air pollution levels are disturbingly high in the central Indian states, namely, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgharh. We urge the Indian government to outline a clear policy on poluution standards from coal plants that are threatening lives of people”, added Aishwarya Madineni.





[4] The city-wise death toll was generated using the region-wise data made available in the Coal Kills, Report, 2013 by UrbanEmissions, India. The figures were further subjected to a Health Risk Assessment to conclude the total population being impacted by the emissions released from the coal-fired power plants.

For more information contact:

Aishwarya Madineni, campaigner, Greenpeace India,,+ 91 8884875744

Jagori Dhar, Senior Media officer Greenpeace India, , + 91 9811200481