THE BIGGEST ANTI COAL MOVEMENTS IN AFRICA: WHY JOIN HANDS

Coal has historically served as a vital energy source for various industries, such as cement production (well it takes 450 grams of coal to produce 900 grams of cement). However, unlike during the Industrial Revolution of the 18th century, the contemporary landscape presents a starkly different picture. Once hailed as an energy solution, coal is now intricately linked to climate change, posing repetitive and catastrophic effects on populations. The impact of this shift is palpable in East Africa, notably during April and May 2024, where devastating consequences were observed. With over 100 fatalities in Tanzania and 200 in Kenya attributed to climate-related events, the rationale behind Africa's continued exploration, mining, and utilization of fossil fuels is increasingly questionable, despite the complexities surrounding coal use.

The political climate, particularly heightened by tensions between Ukraine and Russia, has spurred a notable surge in coal trade within Africa. Tanzania, among other countries, is experiencing what appears to be a fortuitous turn of events. However, amidst perceived benefits, Tanzania is grappling with the harsh realities of climate change, exemplified by El Nino like rains causing fatalities, disrupted communications, and school closures during April and May. Confronting climate change has become an unavoidable imperative, but the question remains: how should it be addressed, and by whom? Can this endeavor come at the expense of coal mines in Tanzania, and is it even a viable consideration?

In light of these pressing concerns, it is pertinent to examine five anti-coal movements gaining traction across Africa.

No Coal in Lamu:

Lamu County in Kenya has been a focal point of anti-coal activism. The proposed Lamu Coal Power Plant faced significant opposition from local communities, environmentalists, and activists concerned about its potential adverse effects on the environment, marine life, and tourism. Legal challenges and public protests have led to delays and uncertainty surrounding the project.


Stop Thabametsi and Khanyisa Coal Plants

In South Africa, the Thabametsi and Khanyisa coal-fired power plants have faced opposition from environmental groups and activists. These projects have been criticized for their contribution to air pollution, water scarcity, and greenhouse gas emissions. Legal battles and public campaigns have aimed to halt or mitigate their construction.


Phasing Out Coal in Ivory Coast

The Ivorian government is strongly considering abandoning the San Pedro coal-fired power plant project, as revealed by the Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development during a parliamentary session on November 18th. This decision follows years of opposition from local communities, environmental civil society groups, and concerned citizens who have been advocating for the cancellation of the controversial project. Proposed in December 2016 to increase national electricity production, the 700 MW coal-fired power station faced vehement resistance due to its potential adverse impacts on communities, ecosystems, and the environment, contravening constitutional articles and the country's commitments to reducing greenhouse gases. Activists employed various tactics such as protests, workshops, debates, and advocacy campaigns, supported by organizations like 350.org, to ensure the project's demise. This development aligns with broader global efforts to phase out coal-fired power stations, as underscored by initiatives like the Paris Agreement and recent climate negotiations emphasizing the imperative of transitioning away from fossil fuels for a healthier and sustainable environment.

 

DeCOALnise Nigeria

Nigeria has seen anti-coal campaigns focusing on proposed coal-fired power plants, such as the one planned in Kogi State. Concerns about environmental degradation, health risks, and the impact on local communities have fueled opposition to these projects.

Anti-coal Ghana

350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon (350G-ROC) is known for advocating renewable energy access in Ghana, but they also successfully led a campaign to halt a proposed coal-fired power station in Ekumfi District, Central Region, in 2013. Collaborating with partners like the Ghana Youth Environment Movement (GYEM), their Price of Pollution campaign persuaded the Ghanaian Ministry of Energy to phase out the project by 2016, as confirmed by the Minister of Energy during a press briefing. Buoyed by this victory, 350G-ROC and partners launched the Renewable Energy for Communities campaign (RE4C) in 2017, aiming to urge the government to invest in renewable energy solutions and raise awareness about their benefits.

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