26 August 2020

John Quiggin on a new Greenpeace report about coal pollution: “‘Lethal Power’ estimates that pollution from coal-burning power stations is responsible for somewhere between 400 and 1,300 premature deaths in Australia each year, as well as around 15,000 asthma attacks and 400 cases of low birth weight in babies. … The death toll for Australia, while staggering, is consistent with estimates from other countries which rely on coal to generate electricity. A 2011 analysis by U.S. economists … concluded that the health damage caused by coal-fired electricity is as much as five times greater than the value-added in electricity generation. … The lives lost in Australia and the U.S. pale into insignificance compared to the catastrophic toll taken by air pollution in developing countries. Coal accounts for a large proportion of the 3 million deaths a year caused by air pollution, including around 400,000 a year in China and 100,000 a year in India. … As a possible recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic comes into sight, it’s time to place human health above the desire to maintain the economic status quo. Australia can and should get off coal by 2030, without harming workers employed in the industry. In doing so, we will be saving both lives and money.”