Nearly two decades of coal mining have contributed to river flow disruption in the Kuye river, Shaanxi, China, December 2015. Photo: Zhao Hang / Greenpeace

HONG KONG, 22 March 2016 (AFP) – Coal plants are draining an already dwindling global water supply, Greenpeace warned on Tuesday, consuming enough to meet the basic needs of one billion people and deepening a worldwide crisis.

Announcing its first global plant-by-plant study, Greenpeace said coal power use will increase with newly built plants, causing "huge stress" on the world's major river basins and threatening communities.

In its report The Great Water Grab: How the Coal Industry is Deepening the Global Water Crisis [pdf], released in Hong Kong, the environmental activist group urged governments to stop depending on coal, a major source of electricity and a pollutant.

It highlighted Asian giants China and India as being at the forefront of the battle with their heavy use of coal.

Coal plants use water at almost every step of the process, from mining and washing coal to the treatment of combustion waste, the report said.

"By choosing to continue huge investments in coal to power their economies for decades to come, governments would commit the world to a future of an ever more desperate fight for scarce water resources," the report said.

The watchdog looked at data from the world's 8,359 coal plants and information on another 2,600 planned plants.

It found that the existing plants "consume enough water to meet the basic water needs of over one billion people".  [more]

Coal plants use enough water to supply 1 bn people: Greenpeace



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