Coal pollution is the biggest driver of climate change.
Coal is killing us and our planet. Pollution from burning coal is the single biggest contributor to dangerous global warming, threatening our way of life. Coal mining drains and pollutes our water supplies, harms our health and destroys our natural landscape.
Air pollution kills an estimated 3 million people globally each year,1 with the burning of coal a key contributor.2 Here in Australia, the mining and burning of coal is the single largest source of air pollution.3
Every year approximately 3,000 Australians die from air pollution4, over twice the annual road toll.
Coal contributes to many more deaths by fuelling dangerous global warming which has seen increased and more intense droughts, bushfires, heatwaves and floods5 threatening people’s lives and livelihoods here and overseas.
Dust from coal mines, trains and ports infiltrates the lungs of coal workers causing respiratory diseases such as black lung. Coal dust pollutes the air of local communities, where higher rates of heart and lung disease, high blood pressure and kidney disease have been found compared to people living other areas6. In Australia, ‘black lung’ disease7 has recently re-emerged among miners, with at least nineteen workers identified with the debilitating condition.8
Coal-fired power stations emit sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxides, mercury and particulates which enter the bloodstream and contribute to asthma, lung cancer, heart disease and strokes9.
Globally, the coal industry still regularly records mining accidents and fatalities. Adani coal companies have claimed serious injuries and deaths in India. In 2016, 21 workers suffered horrendous burns at Adani’s coal-fired power station in Gujarat when a hot water pipe burst, seven of whom later died from their injuries.10
Coal is not safe. It is killing workers, communities, and our planet. Meanwhile, the world is moving beyond coal as countries transition to safer, healthier, and now cheaper ways of making renewable electricity from the sun and wind.
1. International Energy Agency (2016) Energy and Air Pollution. World Energy Outlook Special Report. https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/WorldEnergyOutlookSpecialReport2016EnergyandAirPollution.pdf
2. World Health Organization (2016) Ambient air pollution: A global assessment of exposure and burden of disease. World Health Organization http://who.int/phe/publications/air-pollution-global-assessment/en/
3. As above at .
4. Begg, Vos, Barker, Stevenson, Stanley & Lopez, The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cat. no. PHE 82, Canberra (2007), p234, available at http://www.aihw.gov.au/publication-detail/?id=6442467990
5. World Health Organisation, Climate change and health, June 2016
6. Lockwood AH, Welker-Hood K, Rauch M & Gottlieb B (2009) Coal’s assault on human health. Physicians for Social Responsibility. www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/psr-coal-fullreport.pdf
7. Coal worker's pneumoconiosis
8. At least 22 cases of coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (CWP) have been identified an Queensland and cases are also appearing in NSW.
9. Lockwood AH, Welker-Hood K, Rauch M & Gottlieb B (2009) Coal’s assault on human health. Physicians for Social Responsibility. www.psr.org/assets/pdfs/psr-coal-fullreport.pdf
10. The Hindu, 7 people died in an accident in Adani power plant on April 20th, 28 April 2016.