Nairobi, Kenya: 5 June 2018
In commemorating World Environment Day on 5th June 2018, anti-coal activists across Kenya including from Lamu and Kitui held the #CoalNiSumu (Coal is Poison) demonstration in Nairobi, Kenya. About 250 people participated in the peaceful march through the Central Business District.
It was the first anti-coal demonstration in Nairobi, but just the latest action by the deCOALonize movement (www.decoalonize.org).
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This Nairobi event followed a peaceful anti-coal demonstration in Lamu two weeks ago, in which two activists were arrested for public assembly and face possible charges.
The crowd of protestors carried anti-coal signs in support of Kitui and Lamu residents opposed to coal projects.
The group formally delivered a petition of demands at Parliament and were met by a representative of the Parliamentary Committee on Environment. The group ended its demonstration at the Office of the President, where the Assistant Secretary formally received the petition as well.
Demands included the following:
- The immediate cessation of all activities leading to the construction of a coal plant in Lamu;
- The immediate cessation of all activities leading to coal mining in Kitui;
- A review of NEMA licensing process so as to include effective public participation that can curb impunity and corruption in environmental management in Kenya;
- A vetting of all public officials including the Cabinet Secretary who were involved in approving coal mining and the construction of a coal plant in Lamu;
- A review of the energy policy in Kenya with a view to permanently ban coal in Kenya.
In 2013, the government of Kenya proposed the construction of a 1,050-megawatt coal plant in Lamu County. This would be the first coal-fired power generation plant in Kenya and East Africa. The need for the plant has been based on inflated electricity demand projections, ignoring available alternatives. The proposed plant also raises issues of compliance with international treaties to which Kenya is a party.
In 2015, 24% of Kenya’s electricity was generated from geothermal, wind, and solar and 34% from Hydro. The country has far from exhausted its renewable resources:
- Kenya has harnessed less than 10% of its geothermal resources and approximately 30% of its hydro potential.
- Kenya’s daily insolation is equivalent to 250 million tons of oil equivalent.
- Wind in Turkana, Marsabit, Ngong, and the Coast can support commercial electricity Generation.
Even so, a contract for the Lamu Coal Plant was awarded to Amu Power, a special purpose joint venture between Gulf Energy, a petroleum company, and Centum, an investment company, in September 2014. Amu Power’s sole project, the Lamu Coal Plant, is to be designed and built by Power China. The plant is owned by the Kenyan government and in order to fuel the plant, Amu Power would want to import coal primarily from South Africa and Mozambique. The government has plans to mine coal for the plant in nearby Kitui, Kenya – but this development will take an additional six years to get online and requires a railway to be built to transport the coal from the mine to the plant.
The emissions and effluents from the operation of the plant, the 75% of funds coming from foreign investment, and the impact on indigenous peoples in the region are worth evaluating in light of Kenya’s commitments to: the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; the Nairobi Convention for the Protection, Management, and Development of the Marine and Coastal Environment of the Western Indian Ocean; the Basel Convention; the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Participating deCOALonize partners and members included Team Courage, Pawa254, Haki Africa, KeNRA, CHRCE, Save Lamu, Greenpeace Africa, 350 Kenya, Biodiversity Network, and Katiba Institute, Inter-Religious Council of Kenya, Sauti ya Wanjiku Movement, HBF, Nairobi amongst many other individual Kenyans and civil society organizations.
The deCOALonize Campaign was developed in January 2016 by a group of environmental and social justice advocates concerned about the increasing interest in Kenya on coal power production and exploration. The campaign was developed to advocate and provide information to local communities, policy makers, academics, and civil society, on alternatives to coal and embracing clean energy in Kenya.