The Life After Coal Campaign and Greenpeace Africa have slammed the inclusion of new coal in the updated draft Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP).

The organisation argue that aside from the negative consequences for the environment, the move will cost South Africa close to R20 billion more than needs to be spent and will make electricity more expensive for all South Africans.

“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,” warns Melita Steele, senior climate and energy campaign manager at Greenpeace Africa.

Robyn Hugo, head of the Pollution & Climate Change Programme at the Centre for Environmental Rights, says 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 “Coal is an outdated and dirty technology – the environmental and health costs of which have not been factored into electricity planning.”

 

Air pollution threat

A 2016 report by UK-based air quality and health expert Dr Mike Holland, found that air pollution from Eskom coal-fired power stations kills more than 2 200 South Africans every year, and causes thousands of cases of bronchitis and asthma in adults and children annually.

“This costs the country more than R33 billion annually, through hospital admissions and lost working days,” says Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork.

“In addition to these severe health impacts, coal-fired electricity is also enormously water-intensive and the estimated costs of rehabilitating old mines and mining areas runs into the billions,” says Steele.

The Life After Coal Campaign and Greenpeace Africa says they will reiterate all of these and other concerns in comments to be submitted on the draft IRP.