Cape Town - Coinciding with Youth Month, environmental activists are calling on the government to “Cancel Coal” – a campaign which will run until Sunday.
The campaign, spearheaded by the African Climate Alliance (ACA), Vukani Environmental Movement, groundWork, and the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) seeks to halt the development of new coal mining in South Africa.
It supports a court case, launched in September last year, which seeks to block the government’s plan to build 1 500MW coal-fired power stations.
The ACA Cancel Coal task force, Petra de Beer, Basetsana Pitso, Mukhethwa Kwinda and Sibusiso Mazomba said poorly regulated mining and coal-fired power generation in the country were worsening air and water pollution, which caused health impacts, loss of biodiversity and destruction of arable land.
The burning of coal was also the biggest contributor to climate change.
The team said the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) had made a decision to invest in an additional 1 500MW of new coal into the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which determined how we get our electricity for the next 10 years.
However, the team said this contradicted the government’s commitment that the IRP worked towards reducing reliance on coal and increasing renewable energy capacity to 12 000MW of clean energy by 2030 – an important boost to relieve the current energy crisis and assist in alleviating youth unemployment, as research from C40 Cities revealed that investing in the green energy transition could create 1.8 million new green jobs by 2030.
“The window of opportunity is closing, so government must act now – together with young people and the private energy sector – to end new coal investments in order to achieve the IRP’s 2030 targets,” the team said.
CER Pollution and Climate Change attorney Michelle Sithole gave an update on their court case.
Sithole said the Applicants’ had launched a Rule 30A application, a separate smaller court application, to force Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe (by order of court) to provide the outstanding record documents that he considered when he decided to include 1 500MW of new coal in the IRP and the ministerial determination.
“We have launched a petition and are calling on all South Africans to hold their government accountable for transitioning away from fossil fuels, and to invest in the just energy transition. https://bit.ly/CancelCoalPetition,” the ACA team said.