2000 deaths

Last month, the Chinese government announced their plan to improve air quality in the Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong regions, and that will significantly slow down China's coal consumption growth. It sets an important precedent that should be broadened in China, and that other major economies should follow.

Along with American air pollution expert Dr. H. Andrew Gray, Greenpeace East Asia has been doing extensive work this year into the impacts of Chinese coal on the health of the nation. The numbers that emerged from our modelling of deaths and chronic disease caused by coal and PM2.5 air pollution stand as a testament to how urgently coal consumption must be curbed in China:


PM2.5 pollution from the 196 coal-fired power plants in the capital region of Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei caused 9,900 premature deaths and nearly 70,000 outpatient visits or hospitalizations during 2011. 75% of the premature deaths are caused by the 152 coal-fired power plants in Hebei Province. Image © Zhao Gang / Greenpeace

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Infant deaths

Of these 9,900 premature deaths, nearly 2,000 deaths were in Beijing, 1,200 in Tianjin and 6,700 in Hebei. Research also indicates that coal power plants within the region caused 850 deaths from lung cancer, 190 cases of infant deaths, and an increase in the number of children suffering from asthma by 9,300 and number of people with chronic bronchitis by 12,000. Image © Lu Guang / Greenpeace

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Premature deaths

PM2.5 air pollution from 96 power plants in operation in both Guangdong and Hong Kong caused nearly 3,600 premature deaths as well as 4,000 cases of asthma in children in the region during 2011. In addition, future power plant projects will impact air quality levels and lead to 16,000 premature deaths in Guangdong and Hong Kong over the next 40 years. Image © Liu Feiyue / Greenpeace

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In three of China’s key coal consuming provinces, Shandong, Shanxi and Inner Mongolia, our work has shown that PM2.5 pollution from the 637 power plants in these provinces caused 83,500 premature deaths in China during 2011. Pollution also caused nearly 130,000 cases of asthma and more than 140,000 cases of chronic bronchitis. Image © Greenpeace / Natalie Behring

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Greenpeace has also surveyed public satisfaction of air quality in the Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei region. The survey revealed that nearly 70% of local residents are unsatisfied with the current air quality. Meanwhile, 92% of residents want the air quality of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei region to reach acceptable standards by 2020. Image © Liu Feiyue / Greenpeace

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Top image © Greenpeace / Yin Kuang