Coal plant pollution can lead to 8,300 deaths in India
A new research from the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) said that air pollution from new coal plants developed by companies in which Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd (HSBC) holds stakes will cause an approximated 18,700 deaths globally, and nearly half in India, every year.
The air pollution from these coal plants, when they are developed, will also cause 29,000 emergency room visits due to asthma, 25,000 preterm births and 14 million days of work absence per year.
The health effects add up to $6.2 billion per year, with predicted deaths highest in India (8,300 deaths per year), accompanied by China (4,200), Bangladesh (1,200), Indonesia (1,100), Pakistan (450) and Vietnam (580).
A research by environmental organisation Market forces conducted in April 2021, revealed that HSBC holds ownership stakes in coal companies through its asset management department.
These organisations collectively plan to set up at least 73 new coal plants (137 individual coal plant units), generating 99 GW of energy from coal. CREA used this information to examine air pollution deaths caused per year when all 73 plants are created.
HSBC has recognised that its intention to end coal funding by 2040 does not cover its asset management department.
The research by CREA used a well-formed method for estimating air pollution consequences and implies that all the plants follow their respective national pollution standards.
Lauri Myllyvirta, the Lead Analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, said that HSBC's investments are continuing dependence on the filthiest form of power production, in countries that are already amongst the most polluted in the world.
Adding to it, Myllyvirta said, many cases of death and disease that would occur from HSBC-linked coal power plants emphasise the urgency of moving investments to clean energy to preserve public health and the global climate.
Adam McGibbon, UK Campaign Lead at Market Forces, said that, as an investor in firms developing new coal power plants, HSBC has a financial advantage in the failure of the Paris Agreement on climate change. Now, they have learnt HSBC's investment portfolio would also result in hundreds of thousands of premature deaths, majorly in developing countries that should be getting priority access to clean, renewable energy.
If HSBC plans to present its face at the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow this year, it had better clean up its performance and discard any company trying to perpetuate the climate, and human health emergencies caused by fossil fuels.