Greenpeace: South Korea Third Biggest G20 Investor in Overseas Coal Plants

  • The communique illustrates that the facilities built in other countries emit over 18 times the levels of nitrogen oxides allowed in the home nation.
  • The country has invested in facilities located in Bangladesh, Indonesia, Chile, and Vietnam.
  • A huge population of the world lives in regions with high pollution levels.

Greenpeace has just released a report showing that South Korea is the third biggest public investor of coal power plants in the G20 group. According to the document, most of the projects are situated outside the country. Ten unregulated coal plants are estimated to cause between 1,600 and 5,000 premature deaths each year.

Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over 39 countries and an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Greenpeace states its goal is to “ensure the ability of the Earth to nurture life in all its diversity.”

Highlighting the blatant double-standards, the communique illustrates that the facilities built in other countries emit over 18 times the levels of nitrogen oxides allowed in the home nation. For some coal plants, sulphur dioxide emission rates are over ten times the permitted limit in South Korea. The nation’s Clean Air Conservation Act (2019) has strict provisions regarding power plant projects and emission levels. It, however, does not cover those situated in other countries.

Some of the main regions with major South Korean-funded coal power plants include Bangladesh, Chile, Indonesia, and Vietnam. The Greenpeace report urges countries to move away from non-renewable energy sources and embrace carbon-neutral ones. This is to prevent the rise of pollution hazards that premature cause deaths, especially in the zones where the power plants are located.

Countries with the Biggest Air Pollution Problems

Greenpeace had previously published a study report that shows areas with the highest sulfur dioxide pollution levels in the world. India leads the list and is followed closely by China and Russia. India, apparently, contributes about 15 percent of the world’s sulfur dioxide emissions.

Australia, which has widely been criticized for its heavy reliance on coal for power, ranks 12 on the list. The country lacks clear, enforceable emission regulations. It has higher pollution levels than most countries in the European Union, for example. Current emission levels exceed World Health Organization thresholds by more than 10 percent.

The G20 (or Group of Twenty) is an international forum for the governments and central bank governors from 19 countries and the European Union (EU). Founded in 1999 with the aim to discuss policy pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability, the G20 has expanded its agenda since 2008 and heads of government or heads of state, as well as finance ministers and foreign ministers, have periodically conferred at summits ever since.

Russia’s Norilsk smelter area tops the list of hotspot zones. South Africa’s Mpumalanga province is listed as second. It has a dozen coal power plants. In third place is the Zagroz region in Iran.

According to the organization, the situation in India is dire and requires immediate intervention to avert a public health crisis. It has strived to illustrate that a significant portion of the world’s population resides in areas where air pollution exceeds WHO limits, a situation that has led to millions of deaths over the years.

One recent study found that even air pollution within set air quality standards can lead to long term health issues. Severe cases can lead to premature deaths. Most incidences are linked to cardiovascular and respiratory complications. The research found particle pollution to be the leading form of pollution. It can occur in many forms, including soot, dust, dirt, and smoke.

The effects of ozone pollution, especially at the ground level, are the most lethal. Some studies have likened the effects of this kind of exposure to smoking a pack of cigarettes every day for many years.

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Sam Spencer

Sam Spencer is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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