Greenpeace Africa anti-coal banner slashed by metro police

28 August 2018 - 08:10 By Alon Skuy
Metro police have slashed a Greenpeace Africa banner that was suspended from the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg on August 28, 2018.
Metro police have slashed a Greenpeace Africa banner that was suspended from the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg on August 28, 2018.
Image: Alon Skuy

Johannesburg metro police have cut down a banner proclaiming “more coal‚ more deaths‚ no water” suspended from the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein‚ downtown Johannesburg‚ by a group of Greenpeace Africa activists on Tuesday.

The activists who climbed the bridge to suspend the banner on the top of the bridge were protesting against the inclusion of coal-fired energy in government’s latest draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)‚ released on Monday.

The inclusion of coal in government’s future plans “puts all of our lives at risk”‚ Melita Steele‚ senior climate and energy campaign manager‚ told TimesLIVE.

Greenpeace claims coal is a “filthy‚ dangerous‚ polluting‚ water-hungry‚ expensive and high-risk electricity source”.

In a statement‚ the environmental organisation said: “The inclusion of new coal in the updated draft Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP) will cost South Africa close to R20bn more than we need to spend‚ and will make electricity more expensive for all South Africans. If the Department of Energy were to publish the least-cost plan that civil society organisations have been demanding‚ it would not include any new coal. Allowing the two new coal plants contemplated by the draft IRP to go ahead would be disastrous for water resources‚ air quality‚ health‚ land‚ and the climate.”

The Life After Coal Campaign - consisting of Earthlife Africa‚ the Centre for Environmental Rights‚ and Groundwork – as well as Greenpeace Africa argue that the inclusion of an additional 1000MW of new coal-fired power plants on top of existing and under-construction coal-fired plants puts the Department of Energy in conflict with the rights enshrined in the Constitution‚ given that there are safer‚ cleaner‚ and less expensive energy options available.

“While we recognise the increased emphasis on renewable energy in the draft IRP‚ unless the minister of energy substantially revises and amends the draft IRP to ensure that the constitutional right to a healthy environment is preserved and protected‚ and specifically excludes any new coal‚ the department runs the risk of the IRP being challenged in court‚” said Steele.

Johannesburg metro police cutting down a banner proclaiming “more coal‚ more deaths‚ no water” suspended from the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein‚ downtown Johannesburg‚ by a group of Greenpeace Africa activists on August 28 2018
Johannesburg metro police cutting down a banner proclaiming “more coal‚ more deaths‚ no water” suspended from the iconic Nelson Mandela Bridge in Braamfontein‚ downtown Johannesburg‚ by a group of Greenpeace Africa activists on August 28 2018
Image: ALON SKUY

Robyn Hugo‚ head of the Pollution and Climate Change Programme at the Centre for Environmental Rights‚ said that the updated IRP fails to take sufficient account of the external costs of the various available technologies. “Coal is an outdated and dirty technology‚ the environmental and health costs of which have not been factored into electricity planning.”

A member of the JMPD retraining a Greenpeace Africa activist during demonstrations on the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg on August 28 2018
A member of the JMPD retraining a Greenpeace Africa activist during demonstrations on the Nelson Mandela Bridge in Johannesburg on August 28 2018
Image: ALON SKUY

Business Day reported that in addition to coal‚ the department’s draft plan proposes that renewable energy makes up 26% of the installed power supply and that by 2030 the largest allocations will be for wind (15%) and photovoltaic (10%). These will be complemented by gas‚ which will comprise 16%.

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