About The Index

The Coal Impacts Index is the most comprehensive list of breaches, breakdowns, and pollution events at the 16 coal power stations in Australia’s National Electricity Market (New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria). The information in the Index is sometimes published from public and government sources, but this data is often difficult to find and interpret.

The index presents this information in a logical and accessible format to empower all Australians, especially those living near a coal power station, with information on the health and environmental impacts of coal in our communities.

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What We Track

Emissions belching from chimney stack

Licence Breaches

Licence breaches are collated from a number of sources. In New South Wales and Victoria, coal power stations declare non-compliance with their licences to the Environmental Protection Agency in their state. In Queensland, data has been sourced from the Annual Reports of the coal power generators.

In some instances pollution breaches incurred a financial penalty for the coal power station owner; in other cases, the regulator issued an enforceable undertaking for the owners to clean up the pollution. In some cases, the regulator investigated and decided that no action was required. Where penalties or fines were issues this is also recorded in the index as a separate incident.

Bolt of electricity crossed out


Breakdowns are unscheduled incidents where the power generated by a unit of a power station unexpectedly drops significantly (recorded as a ‘decrease’) or drops to zero (recorded as a ‘unit trip’).

Skull and crossbones in danger warning sign

Toxic Pollution

Coal power stations release millions of kilograms of toxic pollutants each year. The Index focuses on tracking seven of the worst toxins routinely emitted by coal power stations: arsenic, mercury, hydrochloric acid, PM 10 (large particulate matter), PM 2.5 (small particulate matter), oxides of nitrogen and sulphur dioxide. This data is drawn from the Australian Government’s National Pollutant Inventory.

Cloud containg particles of CO2 gas


Coal-fired power stations are Australia’s single biggest source of carbon emissions, accounting for approximately 25% of our total carbon footprint. The Coal Impacts Index includes up-to-date monthly data on the scope one carbon emissions generated by each power station, which is extrapolated using emissions factors from the Clean Energy Regulator and generation data from AEMO. Historical carbon emissions are reported annually from 2015 to 2019 using data from the Clean Energy Regulator

Where the information in this Index comes from

The data in the Coal Impacts Index is collated from a number of sources, including government reports and tracking, corporate databases, research reports and self-reported data from power stations. For more information about the individual sources for each of the incidents listed in the index please see the Sources page.

See the Sources List

About Australia Beyond Coal

The Coal Impacts Index is a project of Australia Beyond Coal. Australia Beyond Coal is a national movement of experts, individuals and environmental organisations working together to transition Australia to 100% renewable energy by 2030.

Our mission is to:

  • Empower everyday people with information about the risks of coal-burning power stations to our climate, health and economy
  • Inspire people to join active campaigns happening right now all over Australia, advocating for a just transition to renewable energy
  • Urge governments and businesses to work with communities on a fast and fair transformation of our energy grid, and
  • Avoid the worst impacts of climate change, while building thriving communities and a prosperous, clean economy for future generations.

Australia Beyond Coal was started as an alliance between a group of seven community organisations, who together represent more than one and a half million Australians concerned about the damaging impacts of coal power on our health, communities, and climate.

Visit the Australia Beyond Coal website

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