Harvard's Research Result: Human Cost of Coal - Indonesia

Laporan - 12 Agustus, 2015

Indonesia is at a critical crossroad and what the government decides in the next few months will determine, literally, the life or death of an estimated 28,300 Indonesians every year. 

For the first time, this report will give a detailed look at the level of morbidity and mortality associated with every coal-fired power plant in the Archipelago. This information has been produced just as the Energy Ministry considers how to fulfill an ambitious plan to build an additional 35 Gigawatts (GW) of new power plants. 

At this stage it appears 22,000 megawatts of this power would come from coal power plants and the calculation shows that it will create 21.200 deaths at stake, This report makes it clear there is a real choice to be made. Does the government meet the nation’s soaring energy requirement by building over a hundred new coal-fired power plants or is it time to fast track safer energy options. 


The Problem: 

Indonesia has dozens of coal-fired power plants that emit hundreds of thousands of tonnes of pollution every year. These power plants fill the air with toxic pollutants, including mercury, lead, arsenic, cadmium and tiny toxic particles that go deep into people’s lungs. 

Air pollution is responsible for over three million premature deaths globally every year. This pollution leads to an increased risk of lung cancer, stroke, heart diseases, and respiratory diseases. Coal burning is one of the biggest contributors to this pollution. 

The findings in this report are based on research done at Harvard University on the health impacts of air pollution from coal-fired power plants in Indonesia. The findings are extraordinary: 

Existing coal-fired power plants in Indonesia cause an estimated 6,500 premature deaths every year. 

Each large new power plant (1000 MW capacity) is expected to result, on average, in the death of 600 Indonesians every year. 

Indonesia is planning to build over a hundred new coal-fired power plants. If these – and those currently under construction - are completed this death toll could rise to 28,300 people every year. 

These deaths come from an increased risk of chronic diseases in adults and acute respiratory infection in children caused by exposure to toxic fine particle and ozone pollution.