New Coal Plants May Kill 16,000 in Guangdong Region, Report Says

Emissions from new coal-power plants in Guangdong would cause 16,000 premature deaths in the southern Chinese province and neighboring Hong Kong over the next four decades, according to a Greenpeace report.

Planned expansion of the 22 coal-fired plants would also lead to 15,000 child asthma cases over the period, according to a report released by the environmental protection group yesterday.

China’s plan to boost coal-fired power by twice the total generating capacity of India by 2020 is straining its effort to curb pollution that has spurred unrest about contaminated air and water resources. The Greenpeace findings may also put more pressure on Hong Kong’s leader Leung Chun-ying, who has made cleaning up the city’s skies a priority with air quality worsening since 2007.

“The cumulative impact of these new power plants on human health is simply shocking,” Zhou Rong, Greenpeace’s Beijing-based representative, said in an e-mailed statement. “All cities of Guangdong, and Hong Kong, are interdependent in terms of air quality as well as public health.”

Emissions from Chinese factories and vehicles is a main source of pollutants in Hong Kong, which has never met its air quality standard targets since they were adopted 26 years ago.

Concentrations of PM2.5, fine air particulates that pose the greatest health risk, from 96 existing power plants in the Guangdong region caused nearly 3,600 premature deaths and 4,000 cases of asthma in children in 2011, the Greenpeace report said.

Coal accounts for about 70 percent of China’s energy mix, according the BP Plc’s Statistical Review of World Energy.

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