groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in Southern Africa in the areas of Climate & Energy Justice, Coal, Environmental Health, Global Green and Healthy Hospitals, and Waste. groundWork is the South African member of Health Care Without Harm and Friends of the Earth International.
Proposed new air quality rules will force Eskom to comply with pollution standards, or shut down
26 June 2018 - Most of Eskom’s ageing coal power stations cause severe air pollution, which contribute to the deaths and ill-health of thousands of South Africans every year.
Despite this, Eskom has thus far been let off the hook by government – not only allowing them to postpone their compliance with air pollution standards, but failing to take enforcement action against Eskom for its pollution.
Now, the Department of Environmental Affairs has finally proposed closing some of these loopholes. Proposed amendments to law published under the Air Quality Act will only permit one postponement of compliance – for five years – with standards which should be met by April 2020 (called “new plant” standards).
Wellington Community Defeats Waste Incinerator in South Africa
07 June 2018 - Communities of Wellington, in the Western Cape of South Africa, have successfully pushed against the Drakenstein Municipalities plans to build a Municipal Waste Incinerator. The Wellington Association against the Incinerator (WAAI) and the Drakenstein Environmental Watch (DEW), both community based organisations, worked tirelessly, along with another GAIA member – groundWork, to campaign, resist and legally challenge the proposed incinerator. The Drakenstein Municipality recognized in their official statement “complaints and resistance by certain interest groups – especially against the proposed inclusion of an incinerator component – as well as legal processes” as part of their decision to terminate the proposed project.
groundWork has been working with community groups in Wellington in this struggle over the past few years. Musa Chamane, one of the Waste Campaigners of the organisation, explained that this victory “highlights the importance of community organizing when fighting for environmental justice” and added that “challenging these projects from different angles is crucial to stop these kind of proposals”.
Keith Roman of WAAI said that their “strategy was to intervene using the legal route to highlight the administrative flaws of the process conducted by the Drakenstein Municipality”. Caron Potocnik of DEW identified the human rights violations related to this project as their main concern “the municipality has to consider the impacts on the people of Wellington” Potocnik affirmed. Going forward both WAAI and DEW are optimistic about the town’s potential “it is great that the incinerator plans have been terminated but now we need to think of how we use sustainable methods of dealing with waste and make Wellington a model zero waste town” both organizations agreed.
This item originally appeared on the GAIA website.
Minister's statement flies in the face of latest 'no new coal' report
04 June 2018 - The Minister of Energy on Friday reiterated government's intention to proceed with the procurement of expensive, dirty electricity from two independent coal power plants – despite compelling evidence about the disastrous impacts these plants would have for South Africa.
Earlier this week, the Energy Research Centre (ERC) released a report proving that the two new coal plants, Thabametsi and Khanyisa, would cost South Africa an additional R20 billion, and increase greenhouse gas emissions by so much that they would negate government's key plans to mitigate climate change. Credible modelling shows that, given the large surplus generation capacity, the coal IPPs are unnecessary to meet demand, and ensure security of electricity supply.
Moreover, both plants would have significant impacts on air quality and health in areas that are already heavily polluted, and would use enormous amounts of precious water resources. It is for these reasons that the Life After Coal Campaign has challenged – and will continue to challenge – all authorisations for these plants, including in High Court proceedings still underway.
Mining Charter Consultation Returns to KwaZulu-Natal
31 May 2018 - Today Minister Gwede Mantashe returns to Newcastle in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) to discuss the Mining Charter with local community people, NGOs and industry. The meeting was to be on the 22 May 2018, but was cancelled on the morning after more than 70 community people travelled from afar as Mtubatuba, Somkhele and Fuleni.
Post the meeting the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) responded and apologised for the late postponement and offered to pay for people's transport to the meeting today. This is welcomed by the communities and groundWork. It is critical that government ensures people are supported to participate in meetings that will define their future.
The community will hold a picket outside the meeting and will hand over a memorandum demanding the right to say no to mining.
To read the memorandum handed over to Minister Mantashe click here.
New proceedings launched to protect Mpumalanga strategic water source area from coal mining
31 May 2018 - Last week, the coalition of eight community and civil society organisations, that is resisting Atha-Africa Ventures’ proposed coal mine inside a Protected Area and Strategic Water Source Area in Mpumalanga, launched new legal proceedings in the Mbombela High Court.
The new proceedings are a judicial review application to set aside the decision of the Mpumalanga Department of Environmental Affairs to grant an environmental authorisation to Atha for its proposed Yzermyn underground coal mine, and the decision of the Mpumalanga MEC to dismiss the coalition’s appeal of that environmental authorisation. The review application is coupled with an interdict preventing the start of any activities at the proposed mining site pending the outcome of the review.