Some of the activists chained themselves to the gate at the entrance to the site where Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned electricity utility, is busy building the Kusile power station, which will have a total capacity of 4800 megawatts (MW) once it’s completed. A second group of activists gained access to the site, scaled a tall construction crane and dropped a banner reading ‘Kusile: Climate Killer’ from it.
Look at pictures of these actions here.
It took police several hours to arrest and remove the activists who were dressed in orange overalls and held banners saying ‘Green Jobs Now’ and ‘No Future In Coal.’ They were taken to a nearby police station, but it is as yet unclear if any charges were laid against them.
This very effective and eye-catching protest action represents a major embarrassment for the South African government which is hosting the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the coastal city of Durban from the 28th of November until the 9th of December.
The protest highlights the fact that although South Africa, a country that generates more than 90% of its electricity by burning coal, is supposedly committed to a lower carbon economy, its government continues to invest heavily in dirty, climate-changing coal power. Kusile is one of two enormous coal-fired facilities with a combined capacity of 9600 MW currently under construction in South Africa. In stark contrast, the government’s renewable energy plans only involve 100 MW of solar and wind power each at the moment.
Greenpeace recently released a report that suggests that Kusile on its own will cost South African taxpayers as much as R60 billion (about $ 7.5 billion) in unaccounted-for damages to the environment and human health every year.
In a country as richly blessed with renewable energy resources as South Africa and on a warming planet with a climate that is threatening to run out of control, there is simply no moral justification to build Kusile or any other coal power plants.
Andreas is a book shop manager and freelance writer in Cape Town, South Africa. Follow him on Twitter: @Andreas_Spath
Photo from: Stock.Xchng