Mbabane: Eswatini Climate Coalition is running an online petition for the public to sign it in a bid to stop the E12 billion proposed Lubhuku Coal Power Plant.
Eswatini Climate Coalition started the petition in collaboration with Foundation For Socio Economic Justice – FSEJ Swaziland, International Research Academy for Labour and Education – IRALE and Swaziland Rural Women’s Assembly.
This comes after reports that Eswatini is planning to building a 300MW coal thermal power plant at Lubhuku (Mpaka). The mining rights for the opening of the coal mine at Lubhuku were given to the Eswatini Electricity Company (EEC) through an agreement that was signed between the entity and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy, which highlights the E12 billion coal thermal power plant project at Lubhuku at Mpaka, whose feasibility study has just been completed.
The E12 billion coal thermal power plant project is expected to get underway at least by December 2021.
Eswatini Climate Coalition started this petition to Eswatini Government and the decision makers early November. According to the petition the world is facing a climate crisis, and the nation needs an immediate and far-reaching transformation to avoid uncontrollable global heating.
Africa, including Eswatini, is more vulnerable than any other region to the world’s changing weather patterns. Eswatini climate coalition said the country can therefore only afford to focus on projects that are environmentally friendly, socially just and economically sustainable.
Coal extraction and burning significantly contributes to the climate crisis that are already faced by the universe. By building new coal projects the country will be directly contributing to the problem, and jeopardising the future health of children and communities.
“Our society, and our planet, cannot afford or endure such a costly mistake,” reads the petition.
The petition further states that Eswatini is far too reliant on energy imports, and this definitely needs to be addressed.
“Yes, we need locally produced energy. Yes, we need jobs. Yes, we need investment & development. But these must be clean, fair and sustainable.”
Eswatini Climate Coalition believes that there are solutions at hand – a renewable energy mix can provide all the national power needs. New coal projects are being stopped all round the world as the country quickly move towards a greener future. If the country progress with this project it may end up with an unfinished, stranded asset – or, even worse, a fully functioning coal power plant that pollutes the air, land, water and communities of the greater Lubombo areas for decades to come.
“We need to act now – we can become global role models for clean energy transitions and positively transform the future of all emaSwati,” reads the petition.
For the benefit of all citizens Eswatini Climate Coalition call on the Government of Eswatini and the Ministry of Resources and Energy to immediately stop the proposed Lubhuku Thermal Power Plant, and prioritise a full shift towards 100% renewable energy in Eswatini by 2030.
In an email sent to this reporter Eswatini Climate Coalition’s Dane Armstrong and Khulekani Msweli said this project is totally, totally unnecessary, and will be highly destructive – it will also undo all our hard work in this country over the last 5 years planning climate-related mitigation and adaptation plans in relation to the global Paris Agreement.
The duo said it must not be allowed to go ahead.
Speaking to this publication, Dane Armstrong said the focus on stranded asset is really important, as it puts all the discussion of creating investment and jobs under a lot of scrutiny. He said the term stranded asset is really important to understand in this context, and is increasingly linked to new fossil fuel projects.
Armstrong said as the world increasingly moves towards decarbonisation, we could literally see a scenario whereby investments run dry during construction or halfway through the project’s supposed lifespan as the cost of coal mining, production and energy generation becomes increasingly unprofitable – leaving us with the dirtiest white elephant Eswatini has ever seen.
“For a fraction of the cost we can create an energy mix based totally on renewables, creating thousands of long-lasting jobs around the country (rather than again benefiting an elite few, and putting our country even further in debt),” said the duo.
In an exclusive interview with Independent News, Trade Unions Congress of Swaziland Deputy Secretary General Muzi Mhlanga confirmed that as a union they are working closely with Eswatini Climate Coalition on the matter. Mhlanga said they are wondering why the country chooses such a power generating platform while there are clean and safe power generating means like the solar power system and wind power generating.
Mhlanga said the country seems to be much reckless when it comes to environmental issues while they are real and instead of mitigating the situation, the government is going to make it even much more badly. Mhlanga touched on the estimated cost of E12 billion, saying there is surely far greater merit investing in other “abundant natural resources” such as solar PV, wind and biomass – which, due to their very nature, are as close to an infinite resource as we can currently get (and also come with a much smaller price tag).