On Friday, a large group of environmental activists will take to the streets of Johannesburg to protest Anglo American Thermal Coal and Vedanta Zinc International's plans for another coal-fired power station in the Waterberg District, Limpopo. The Waterberg is a water scarce area and communities in the area already experience the effects of coal mining and existing coal-fired power stations: negative health impacts, stress on water supplies and only a handful of long-term local jobs. Civil society organisations therefore oppose the companies' plans and demand an immediate shift towards renewable energy sources.
Neither Anglo nor Vedanta appear willing to understand the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 5th Assessment Report: the impacts of coal-fired power stations on global climate change and the resulting threats to local communities. This issue is not just a local, but global. Across the world, civil society organisations in a Global Month of Action on Energy are highlighting the role of companies like Anglo in causing climate change. This Friday's march will focus on plans by AngloAmerican Thermal Coal and Vedanta Zinc to develop a coal complex including a new coal mine and a 600 Megawatt (MW) coal-fired power station.
"Civil society is asking Anglo American and Vedanta to steer away from their poor energy choices," says Makoma Lekalakala, Senior Programme Coordinator at Earthlife Africa. "There is enough evidence that climate change is caused by human activities. However, we have clean renewable energy solutions available to provide electricity and local jobs in a green energy industry. So today civil society is again taking a stand against greedy and irresponsible plans - plans to further destroy the climate and to negatively impact us - the people."
Both Vedanta and Anglo are pulling against the march of history. International financing institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are pulling out of funding coal-fired power stations and other coal developments due their contribution to pollution. In addition, the recent findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly indicate that we have no time to lose and countries like South Africa have to reduce their emissions.. "With the scientific backing of the IPCC, South African activists are even more encouraged to confront whichever company wants to go down the road of environmental destruction," states Dominique Doyle, Earthlife's Energy Policy Officer. "We are not willing to give in to the likes of Anglo American."
Already, the Waterberg District is home to two coal-fired power stations: Matimba has been in existence since 1988; Medupi is still under construction but is about 2.5 years behind schedule, and is double the anticipated costs. Anglo American and Vedanta would add a third power station and Eskom plans to add a fourth power station (Coal-3) in the water-stressed area. The people of Lephalale and the Waterberg are being sacrificed in the name of private profit. Further, Eskom has been seeking an exemption for most of its fleet of coal-fired power stations from South African air quality regulations and is delaying Flue Gas Desulfurization (FGD) at Medupi for several years However, Eskom is required by its 2010 World Bank loan conditions to install FGD and comply with South Africa's air quality emissions standards and legislation.
Information about the march:
Start Time: 09:30
End Time: 13:00
Starting point: Peter Roos Park, Corner Empire Rd & Joubert St, Johannesburg