Greenpeace research estimates new coal power projects would cause 16,000 premature deaths in Guangdong and Hong Kong over next 40 years

Press release - 2013-08-27
Guangdong – Joint research conducted by Greenpeace and American air pollution expert Dr. H. Andrew Gray estimates that 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. Greenpeace demands the Guangdong provincial government abandon plans for any new coal power plants and rapidly reduce coal consumption.

Guangdong province is China’s most populace province and largest provincial economy. It is also the nation's biggest coal importer. Of particular concern is the massive amounts of coal burning each year due to power generation and that has become a major contributor to PM2.5 pollution in the area.

The research shows that 11 new coal-fired plants are under construction, with another 11 being planned. Calculations indicate a further 16,000 premature deaths and 15,000 child asthma cases over the next 40 years due to the planned expansion, even when modeled with the assumption that strict new pollution control requirements are fully implemented. “The cumulative impact of these new power plants on human health is simply shocking.  The Pearl River Delta region should strictly enforce the policy of no more new coal-fired and oil-fired power plants, as announced in 2009," said Zhou Rong, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner.

Although the air quality of the Guangdong-Hong Kong region is among the better of the more economically developed regions of China, deteriorating air conditions and resulting health impacts have nonetheless raised public concern. In early August, the planned construction of a coal-fired plant in Shenzhen was met with strong civil opposition. The project was eventually cancelled in response to the objections put forward by 43 Shenzhen Municipal People's Congress Deputies. Shenzhen Energy Group has responded with only a short-term solution, saying it would choose another more suitable site outside of Shenzhen for construction. 

“Simply pushing the construction of power plants to neighboring cities outside the Pearl River Delta Region will not solve this problem. All cities of Guangdong, and Hong Kong, are interdependent in terms of air quality as well as public health,” said Zhou. “The only way to eliminate the health impacts associated with coal burning is to set a clear-cut coal reduction target and to jointly develop renewable energy to meet power demands.”

Greenpeace is calling on the Guangdong government to rein in its planned coal power plant expansion and to take the lead in achieving the new national air quality standards.

Media Contact

Zhou Rong, Greenpeace Climate and Energy Campaigner
Tel: (+86) 150 1152 1394

Sandy Zeng, Greenpeace Communications Officer
Tel: (+852) 9133 1415 / 2854 8382