According to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), 6,200 of the extra deaths would be due to exposure to particulate matter, 3,500 due to exposure to nitrogen dioxide, and 5,700 due to exposure to sulphur dioxide.
More than 15,000 people could die by 2050 from air pollution-related conditions if coal-dependent South Africa delays decommissioning its power plants beyond 2030, a think tank said Tuesday October 24.
A new study by Helsinki-based nonprofit organization the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) revealed that delaying the decommissioning of South Africa’s coal-fired power plants beyond 2030 “would cause a projected 15,300 excess air pollution-related deaths” between 2023 and 2050.
The delay could also cost the country’s economy more than $18 billion. Earlier this year, the country’s electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa announced plans to reschedule the decommissioning of some of the country’s power plants and suggested refurbishing others.
“The air pollutant emissions from prolonged operation of the plants would have a major impact on public health in South Africa” the research centre said in the study.
According to CREA, 6,200 of the extra deaths would be due to exposure to particulate matter, 3,500 due to exposure to nitrogen dioxide, and 5,700 due to exposure to sulphur dioxide. Some of the illnesses those exposed could suffer include asthma, premature and underweight babies, depression, pneumonia and bronchitis and dementia, the NGO said.
Currently, only one of the African heavyweight’s set of power plants have been retired — although not yet fully decommissioned, its closure has avoided 220 deaths, the study said. South Africa remains one of the world’s top 12 largest polluters and seventh largest coal producer.