Environmental non-profit Greenpeace has called on India to reduce coal emissions after the Chinese Government on Wednesday 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 percent 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, Greenpeace said.
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.
"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 percent of the electricity, and the resulting air pollution is leading to death and diseases Greenpeace said. 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.
The maps attached with this release are generated based on the existing data from the Coal Kills report. The death toll as a result of poor air quality in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Singrauli and Nagpur is 2400, 1600, 1200, 1180, 500 respectively, the organisation said.
Existing standards for particulate matter in Idna are far below standards adopted by China, Japan or Western countries, Greenpeace said, adding that 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. 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.