India’s plans to expand its coal fleet by 64 gigawatt would nearly double the number of annual premature deaths from coal-related air pollution in Delhi to 5,280 over the next decade, according to a new study. Besides premature deaths, the current expansion could cause 8,360 preterm births and 10,310 asthma emergency visits over the next decade, the report by C40 Cities, a network of the world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change, says. Twelve percent of India’s coal-based electricity is generated within 500 km of the national capital.
The research suggests that around 55 lakh sick days could be caused by air pollution exposure from coal power plants in Delhi if the current proposed expansion of coal capacity takes place.
The economic health costs associated with coal pollution in Delhi is estimated at USD 8.4 billion over the coming decade. One billion is equal to 100 crores. It is also estimated that a coal expansion would result in a total of 3,770 life-years lived with disabilities. ”Air pollution (PM2.5 annual concentration) in Delhi is more than nine times above the WHO guidelines, and more than twice the national guideline. Current national plans would expand the coal fleet by 28 percent between 2020 and 2030 not reduce it by 20 percent, threatening the health and well-being of the urban residents in Delhi while undermining India’s climate and air quality targets. ”Current national plans could nearly double the number of annual premature deaths from coal power plants air pollution in the city,” Dr Rachel Huxley, Head of knowledge and research at C40. The research also sheds light on how closing coal plants would save lives, cut costs and create jobs in Delhi.
Governments can create 2.26 lakh energy jobs by 2030 by retiring the oldest and least competitive coal plants while investing in solar and wind energy to supply Delhi with renewable electricity, the C40 Cities report suggests. ”A transition to clean energy is not only critical for Indian cities to reduce air pollution, improve their residents’ health and deliver their climate targets, aligned to Paris Agreements but also to create jobs,” said Shruti Narayan, Regional Director C40, South and West Asia.
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