It’s time to transition to renewable energy

Hanoi – Existing coal plants in Vietnam cause an estimated 4,300 premature deaths every year, which can be avoided by switching to renewable energy, according Harvard University research presented at ‘Coal and Coal Power: The Unknowns’ conference in Hanoi. If new projects under development are realised, this could rise to 25,000 premature deaths per year.

“According to the research carried out at Harvard University, the number of deaths related to coal-fired power in Vietnam was 4,300 people. In the context of Vietnam’s economic growth and direction recently, deaths from coal power threaten to escalate, along with associated medical expenses due to the decline of people’s health,” said Mr. Tran Dinh Sinh, representing the Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA).

Those findings are part of a Harvard University research series to look at the level of morbidity and mortality associated with coal-fired power plants in Southeast Asia. It follows a recent report Harvard and Greenpeace Southeast Asia released “Human Cost of Coal-Indonesia”, which estimated 28,300 premature deaths, emphasising the need of an immediate shift to renewable energy in Indonesia. The Harvard series will continue over the next few months, including research on Thailand and the Philippines.

The Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA) also published research results on the impacts of a major coal ash spill from the Quang Ninh Thermal Power Plant (TPP) in late July that claimed over 17 victims and left 30 injured, destroyed over 300 homes and released toxic pollution into the environment. VSEA found that the areas affected by the flood were contaminated with significantly elevated levels of arsenic, manganese and chromium.

According to the data published by VSEA, the planned development of thermal power plant will generate huge amounts of coal ash, estimated at 14.8 million tonnes per year from 2020 and up to 29.1 million tonnes per year from 2030, with a potential for significant impacts on the environment and community health.

“Renewable energy is the future of Southeast Asia, not coal,” said Arif Fiyanto, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Coal Campaigner.

“Southeast Asia is one of the most vulnerable, but least prepared region to deal with the climate change impacts. To avoid these catastrophic impact s, our coal addiction needs be stopped immediately.

“Now is the time for ASEAN to commit to a truly secure and sustainable energy future – one built on genuinely clean technologies, economic development and the creation of hundreds of thousands of green jobs – it’s time for a Coal Free Southeast Asia,” Arif concluded.

Notes to the editor:

  1. Greenpeace International’s 2015 Energy [R]evolution report.
  2. Vietnam Sustainable Energy Alliance (VSEA) established in 2012, including members of Vietnamese and international NGOs cooperating to strengthen sustainable energy development in Vietnam and the Mekong region by promoting energy policy sustainability, energy conservation and renewable energy solutions, using local energy plan as a key strategy. VSEA organised the Coal and Coal Power: The Unknowns’ conference in Hanoi (29 September 2015) 
  3. For more info on Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaign.

Media contacts:

Lauri Myllyvirta, Senior Global Coal Campaigner, Greenpeace East Asia, email: [email protected] tel. +841647407125

Arif Fiyanto,  Climate and Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, email: [email protected] tel. +62811-180-5373

Ms. Nguyen Trang Nguyen, Communication officer, VSEA, email: [email protected] tel: +84 168 992 9348 / +84 43 79 56372