Do you still support the Lamu Coal Power Plant? Well, if you do, you are among those who wouldn’t mind a small town become heavily polluted by toxic waste which could lead to long term health effects for the residents even when the project is completed. This is the hard truth. It only takes a little research on the effects of its mining where it has occured all across the globe. The gory details could be hidden in most areas globally, possibly due to some officials [read politicians] who don’t want to take the blame for any mishaps or their total disregard for human rights. Remember, there is no such thing as ‘clean coal’.
We feel the coal plant poses real threats to the environment in terms of health risks to the people and degradation of the pristine ecosystem at the coast. – Mohamed Awer [Country Director of WWF, Kenya]
The guest post section today focuses on why Kenya should withdraw from the coal plant power project. We need more voices on this issue as such a project could set the precedence of how other projects that touch on our ecosystem will be approached. Join the conversation @deCOALonize and @SaveLamu.
Kenya, like any other developing country, is more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change which include; Increased frequency and intensity of droughts, floods, coral bleaching, habitat loss, increased prevalence of vector-borne diseases among others, threaten livelihoods. Climate change is a global phenomenon that requires a global response where each country is mandated to play its part according to their respective capabilities.
In 1992, countries came together and adopted the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change with the objective of stabilizing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. This is because, human activities like coal mining, agriculture, deforestation, use of motor vehicles among others contribute significantly to increased concentration of greenhouse gases. Greenhouse gases concentration in the atmosphere has increased tremendously over the years. In 1850, the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was 280 ppm and currently stands at 415 ppm. Over the same period, the global temperature increased by 0.8 degrees Celsius.
The Amu Power Company Limited and the government of Kenya now want to put up a KES 2 billion coal Plant in Lamu amidst a backlash from local organizations, leaders, and concerned parties. Some of these government projects that are not supported by a group of citizens actually go through because government policies, legislations, and strategic plans allow them to. Vision 2030 for example, the country’s blueprint to steer Kenya to become a middle-income country, encourages diversification of electricity sources including additional 1646MW from geothermal,1050MW from natural gas, 630MW from wind and 1920MW from coal. Countries prioritize their development plans based on these strategies and any investor that can help achieve this energy mix will be more than welcome.
The Paris agreement opened for signing in 2015 to limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius is already yielding results, especially in the energy sector. Just over 2 years and countries are already shutting down and divesting from fossil fuels, particularly coal. The Chinese government has recently canceled plans to build 103 coal plants. Finland announced plans to entirely stop the use of coal to generate energy by 2030 while Canada plans to phase out the use of coal by 2023. Kenya is greatly endowed with geothermal, wind, solar and hydropower potential and has earned the tag ‘geothermal powerhouse’. As time flies, so ought we by investing and transitioning into these clean and renewable energy paradigms.
In addition to contesting the procedures and legality of Lamu coal plant project, attention should also be given to lobbying for changes in current laws, policies and development strategies that derail our transition into a low carbon development pathway. Kenya has been at the forefront in the enactment of progressive laws and policies such as The Climate Change Act 2016, National Climate Change action plans (2010), National Climate Change Response Strategy (2013-2017) and Kenya National Adaptation Plan (2015-2030) to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change and the same should be seen in how we realign other laws, policies, strategies and actions to reflect our commitment to fighting climate change. It’s time to take a cue from Trump during his time at the apprentice show and fire our coal ambition.
Denis is a practicing Environmental Impact Assessment and Audit associate expert and currently pursuing his masters on climate change adaptation at Institute for climate change and adaptation (UoN). You can connect with him on Twitter @dskiplagat, FaceBook, and/or email email@example.com
Lamu doesn’t need a coal plant but security, education, hospitals and the community will flourish through tourism, fishing. – Boniface Mwangi