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.
South African’s big four banks are financing a new coal-fired power station in the Waterberg. This is despite the fact that a 2016 report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)has found that including any new coal in South Africa’s energy mix would be unnecessary, and more expensive. Moreover, building any new coal-fired power stations effectively means that South Africa would be unlikely to meet its climate change commitments under the Paris Agreement.
On 25 November 2016, Thabametsi Power Company (Pty) Ltd gave notice to interested and affected parties of its application to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), for a licence to operate 557.3MW of a 1200MW proposed coal-fired power plant near Lephalale, Limpopo, under the Coal Baseload Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA), represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, has instituted review proceedings in the High Court in August 2016 to have the environmental authorisation for this power plant set aside. ELA contends that the environmental authorisation was granted without any serious consideration of the climate change implications of the new coal-fired power plant, and on the basis that the plant would use a significant amount of water in a drought-stricken part of the country.
30 November 2016 - Yesterday, the Life After Coal/Impilo Ngaphandle Kwamalahle Campaign (consisting of the Centre for Environmental Rights, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, and groundWork), together with the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, the Vaal Environmental Justice Alliance, the Highveld Environmental Justice Network, the South African Waste Pickers Association, Bopanang Bangalano, the Climate Action Group, Nthole Morwalo, and the Women Energy and Climate Change Forum called upon the Minister of Energy and the Department of Energy to provide a fair, reasonable, and procedurally fair opportunity for comment on the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) update.
25 November 2016 - Reacting to the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) base case scenario introduced by the Department of Energy earlier this week, civil society groups and individuals have responded by rejecting the IRP ‘base case scenario’ as nothing more than renewed attempts by the Department of Energy and Eskom to promote vested interests in nuclear and coal.
Nuclear and coal power should not appear in the base case at all if it is modelled purely for cost optimisation, which is what the IRP base case model claims to be based on.
Following hot on the heels of the 22nd COP (Conference of the Parties) in Marrakesh focusing on the health of the planet, it is an absolute priority that, if we are to have any chance of keeping global average temperature increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius, we must put all our investments in renewables and cut out nuclear and coal.
22 November 2016 - Earlier today, the Minister of Energy announced the publication of the long-awaited draft Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and draft Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP) Assumptions and Base Case Reports – a move welcomed by the Life After Coal Campaign (made up of groundWork, the Centre for Environmental Rights and Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg). These are vital policy documents setting out government’s plans for South Africa’s future energy mix.
The presentations released today are not adequate for purposes of comprehensive comment on the IRP or IEP, as the presentations do not represent a full set of assumptions, contain gaps, and have not been fully explained.
Zero Mercury is the goal, as the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) in collaboration with the Africa Institute plans its Global Environment Facility(GEF) funded Mercury Initial Assessment Project (MIA). This effort together with DEA’s Mercury inventory and cost benefit analysis project and the recent National Consultative Workshop on mercury added products (MAPS), are the first steps government, private sector and NGOs are taking towards the ratification and subsequent implementation of the Minamata Convention.
21 November 2016 - groundWork has today released its September newsletter.
21 November 2016 - On Tuesday, 22 November 2016, the Department of Energy is briefing the media on the release the Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) for public consultation. The IEP “aims to guide future energy infrastructure investments over the period up to 2050, and identify and recommend policy options to shape the future energy landscape of the country. The IRP serves to guide government’s plan for electricity provision within the energy mix.”
The 2016 groundWork Report - 'The Destruction of the Highveld" - will be presented to the media in Johannesburg on Tuesday 22 November.
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 15 November 2016 - South Africa made a great fanfare of ratifying the Paris climate agreement on 2nd November 2016 just before environment minister Edna Molewa headed up the South African delegation for the next round of negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco.
She celebrated her arrival in Marrakech by approving an extra 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year from two new coal fired power stations in South Africa.
08 November 2016 - The 2016 groundWork annual report titled 'The Destruction of the Highveld - Digging Coal' will be officialy released today.
Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg, 31 October 2016 - The Life After Coal Campaign (made up of groundWork, the Centre for Environmental Rights and Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg) together with Greenpeace Africa are deeply concerned about the current state of South Africa's energy policy. Vital procurement decisions are being made in a turbulent, chaotic environment, mired by controversy, secrecy and misrepresentation. At this critical juncture in our energy future, our choices have to be based on sound, accurate, current and accepted energy policy that will benefit all South Africans.
Central to proper decision-making is the long-overdue update to the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity 2010-2030 (IRP). The Minister of Energy has expressed intentions to release the updated IRP before the end of this year, but there is some doubt as to whether this will be subject to a reasonable and fair opportunity for the public to make input. Since these energy decisions have significant impacts for all South Africans, and for constitutional environmental rights, there is no room for secrecy or box-ticking: there must be full and meaningful stakeholder engagement in all stages of the process towards finalising an updated IRP.
29 October 2016 - Between Eskom' public anti-renewable energy campaign, claims of #StateCapture around the nuclear deal being at the heart of moves against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, energy investments going ahead based on a badly outdated plan, and the SA Wind Energy Association taking steps to hold Eskom accountable for its unwillingness to sign new power purchase agreements (without which, new renewable energy projects cannot connect to the grid), it' difficult to keep track of what is going on in South Africa' turbulent energy landscape.
Global Green and Healthy Health Systems side event at World Health Congress
Durban, South Africa, 24 October 2016 – Health care institutions from around the globe will gather on Sunday at the Durban ICC for the start of the 40th World Health Congress, under the International Hospital Federation. The importance of environmentally healthy health care will intersect with this year’s congress theme “Addressing the Challenge of Patient-Centred Care and Safety” at a side event hosted by international health network Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) in partnership with its South African member groundWork.
On 31 October, the side event “Leadership for Sustainability” will bring together hospital leaders from Africa that have voluntarily joined the Global Green and Healthy Hospitals Network (GGHH) – a project under HCWH – as well as other leading international health care experts to share approaches to low-carbon, sustainable health care ideas and systems.
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 20 October 2016 – From 24 to 28 October, UN negotiations that could provide a historic opportunity for justice and an end to corporate impunity will resume in Geneva.
The talks are taking place in a critical context of global climate, biodiversity, financial, food and humanitarian crises, for which transnational corporations are largely responsible, but which impact the vulnerable most, mainly people in the Global South. Companies’ operations systematically result in environmental crimes, and the intimidation of activists defending their rights and the environment. Just last week, a community leader of Honduras’ COPINH movement, which has been at the forefront of the grassroots opposition to the controversial Agua Zarca and other hydro projects for many years, suffered yet another assassination attempt.
“A legally binding instrument to control transnational corporations with respect to human rights and provide victims of corporate abuse with justice is long overdue. What is currently happening in Honduras is just one of the many examples of the systemic rights violations suffered by activists and communities on a daily basis around the world. Transnational companies and their international financiers are responsible for these violations. We call on governments to stand with social movements and affected people worldwide to demand a binding Treaty and engage constructively in this new round of negotiations”, said Lucia Ortiz, Friends of the Earth International.
Cape Town and Pietermaritzburg, 5 October 2016 - Poorly-regulated mining and coal-fired power generation in South Africa are responsible for air and water pollution, destruction of arable land, and biodiversity loss, violating the human rights of many communities, including their rights to life, health, water, food, culture and a healthy environment. Despite the human rights harms of mining and of coal-burning, the South African government is not enforcing the relevant environmental standards, and allows excessive pollution to continue. Government has also allowed the mining industry to be one of the least transparent industries in SA.
This dire situation has increased public opposition to mining projects. Tragically, the response has been a pattern of harassment and violence against opponents exercising their human rights to freedom of expression and assembly. In March 2016, a culture of intimidation and violence around a proposed mine in the Eastern Cape led to the assassination of Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, a leader of the opposition to the proposed mineral-sands mine near his community. To date, no one has been brought to justice for this crime.
These concerns form the basis of a submission made by a group of civil society organisations to the United Nations’ (UN) Human Rights Council (HRC) on Wednesday 5 October 2016, in preparation for its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of SA, which is set to take place in Geneva, in March 2017.
The participants in a dialogue to build unity, solidarity and learning, concerning fracking and the expansion of fossil fuels, held in the Eastern Cape town of Matatiele on the 3rd and 4th of October 2016, have released a statement which you can read here.
Matatiele, South Africa, 03 October 2016 – Communities who stand to be affected by unconventional gas exploration and extraction in South Africa – namely in the KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Free State Provinces – and those who are currently fighting existing or proposed mines across the country will be meeting from 3rd to 5th of October in Matatiele, Eastern Cape.
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