Civil society organizations this week filed a constitutional lawsuit against the South African government demanding that it repeal plans to build 1,500 MW coal-fired power plants as it would exacerbate air and water pollution, health hazards and global warming.
They filed the case in the North Gauteng High Court on the grounds that the new power would pose “significant unjustified threats to constitutional rights” and the climate by increasing greenhouse gas emissions. SA is the twelfth largest emitter in the world.
The legal #CancelCoal challenge comes after the end of the COP26 climate summit at the weekend, at which almost 200 nations committed themselves to “phase out” coal. South Africa was one of them, pledging to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
The draft text on “phasing out” coal was controversial and that goal was watered down to “phasing out” in the final Glasgow climate pact. .
At COP26, SA received R 131 billion (USD 8.5 billion) to support its “just energy transition” away from coal.
The Minister for Forestry, Fisheries and Environment, Barbara Creecy, who led the SA delegation to COP26 and welcomed the results of this month’s climate summit on Wednesday.
“For the first time … [the parties] have emphasized the importance of support agreed by developing countries to help finance just transition elements of their climate action and support the implementation of Just Transitions that promote sustainable development and poverty eradication and the creation of decent and quality jobs, “she said.
New coal-fired power plants, outlined in the government’s Integrated Resource Plan, would increase “South Africa’s reliance on environmentally harmful fossil fuels” and collide with its climate targets. As part of the global pact, they said Activists in a statement.
“There is no justification for this because cleaner and less harmful renewable energies are both a viable and cheaper alternative to new coal-fired electricity,” they said.
That Center for Environmental Rights represents the African Climate Alliance founded by young people, the community-based Highveld Group, the Movement for Environmental Justice in Vukani in action and groundwork on this matter The right of people according to Section 24 to live in an environment that does not harm health and well-being would be violated.
In addition, it would cost “at least” R23 billion more than an optimal electricity plan with the lowest Cost. “
Thomas Mnguni, an environmental activist with GroundWork, added,” It has been irrefutably shown that renewable solar and wind power with flexible generation capacities such as storage … offer viable and affordable alternatives to coal-fired power. “
The case was brought against Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and the National Energy Regulator of SA after the government stated a letter of formal notice dated 17th.
Ronald Mhlakaza, General Secretary of Vukani, said: “Coal affects the health and well-being of members of the community – people live with cancer and respiratory diseases and depend on oxygen and nebulisers to survive.
“This case is the last resort. We say there shouldn’t be any new coal power. It’s too destructive. ”
The urgency of a“ just energy transition ”was emphasized by youth coordinator Gabriel Klaasen from the African Climate Alliance.
Klaasen said:“ Without I cannot imagine a future which is not defined by persistent and increasing suffering. ”
The National Energy Regulatory Agency of SA and the Minister of Energy have until December 6th and 7th, respectively, to respond to the challenge.