Jun 27, 2019
Kenya's National Environmental Tribunal ruled this week that the government and its industry-allies failed to submit a proper environmental impact assessment to build a coal power on Lamu island.
The $2 billion plant, with more than half of the financing coming from the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), was projected to produce 1,050 megawatts of badly-needed electricity. But that power would have likely come at a very high environmental cost.
Environmental activists warned that the plant would have increased Kenya's carbon emissions by 700% and caused serious damage to local farms and fishing grounds.
The government now has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
There's been no official response from ICBC or the Chinese government as to how they plan to respond to the tribunal's decision. Critics of the proposed plant want to encourage China to walk away from this project, rightly pointing out that building coal plants in pristine environments like Lamu does not help China's environmental image in Africa. Instead, they argue, there's an opportunity here for Beijing to align its rhetoric on sustainability and green technology along its Belt and Road trade route with financing that will go to support renewable electricity initiatives.
Omar Elmawi, a campaign coordinator for the anti-coal advocacy group DeCOALonize that was also plantiff in the case against that went before the environmental tribunal, is cautiously optimistic that both the Chinese and Kenya supporters of the plant will back down. But, it's still too early to tell.
Omar joins Eric and Cobus to discuss the Lamu coal plant case and why Kenya didn't actually need this plant to fulfill its power requirements given the abundance of renewable resources at its disposal.
JOIN THE DISCUSSION:
What do you think of the tribunal's decision and how do you think the Chinese-financiers of the proposed Lamu coal power plant should respond? Should they take Omar's advice and just walk away from this project or do you think they should come back to engage activistis like DeCOALonize on how to finance new renewable electric power projects?
Let us know what you think.