Tar Sands activists in the US and UK weren’t the only ones fighting climate change and bringing awareness to its causes this weekend. Greenpeace activists near Johannesburg, South Africa chained themselves to the gates of a coal power plant construction site and climbed a construction crane last night to protest overuse of coal, a main global warming contributor, in South Africa.
7 Greenpeace activists locked themselves to the gates at the Kusile coal power plant construction site while 6 other activists climbed a construction crane and hung a banner saying “Kusile: Climate Killer.”
“This morning i’m writing from the top a 110m high crane inside the construction plant of Eskom’s next collosal coal-fired power station, Kusile,” Greenpeace activist Michael Baillie wrote.
I’m here with five other climbers to highlight the true cost of coal power in South Africa. Our country has a severe fossil fuel addiction, and coal is our drug — a drug that causes destruction at every step. South Africans cannot afford the costs of this addiction.
The damage that this coal-fired plant will cause, will cost South Africans R60bn a year in water use, climate change impacts, and human health costs. Those costs are on top of what Eskom is paying in upfront construction costs for the plant to be built.
The bottom line is that there is no future in coal!
“Construction of this place should stop now,” Greenpeace spokeswoman Fiona Musana said.
South Africa will be hosting the next climate change summit in the coastal city of Durban later this month. South Africa’s main contribution to global warming comes from the burning of coal for electricity. It gets 90% of its electricity from coal power. The activists, surely, will keep up their work in bringing more people’s attention to this matter and in trying to convince the South African government and governments around the world to stop sitting on their soft little (or big) tooshies about this.
Greenpeace South Africa just released an independent study of the cost of coal, and this power plant, in particular, in South Africa. The report, titled, “The True Cost of Coal in South Africa: paying the price of coal addiction,” was completed by the University of Pretoria’s Business Enterprises unit in its Department of Economics. ESKOM, of course, was not a fan of the report and came out trying to deny its conclusions on radio shows.
“When the world descends on Durban at the end of this month and people everywhere hope that progress can be made in reaching a climate saving deal, the South African government has a chance to lead, a chance of making history as a champion for the climate, for justice and the planet,” Greenpeace’s Melita Steele said in a statement today. “It should not squander that chance by letting a government owned utility like Eskom make a mockery of the talks.”
Last year, the World Bank approved a $3.05-billion loan for a coal plant in South Africa, which will be the world’s 4th-largest coal plant when completed. This has made environmentalists and others concerned about fast-increasing, catastrophic climate change none too happy. And, it leaves trying to stop the plant up to activists of all stripes — those willing to climb construction cranes and those able and willing to attend climate talks and other governmental meetings.
ESKOM’s Kusile power plant would also use a tremendous amount of water, which is one reason the plant would cost the country so much money.
You would think, in sunny South Africa, they might have a better power option — solar — that uses an extremely small amount of water and doesn’t contribute to global warming and catastrophic global climate change….
Images via Greenpeace South Africa