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Centre for Environmental Rights – Advancing Environmental Rights in South Africa

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Pollution & Climate Change

Cancel Coal: Legal Challenge of Government’s Plan for New Coal-fired Power Capacity

The #CancelCoal court case is a constitutional challenge against the South African government’s plans to develop 1500 megawatts (MW) of new coal-fired electricity generation. The environmental and climate justice organisations bringing the case are the African Climate Alliance, Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action, and groundWork. They argue that the government’s plans to develop new coal plants threaten not only the rights to an environment not harmful to the health or well-being of present and future generations in South Africa but also the rights to life, dignity, equality, as well as the best interests of the child.

This is because the carbon dioxide emissions and pollution from coal-fired power poses unjustifiable harms and risks of harm to human health, the environment, and importantly, our climate. Expert evidence supporting the case, shows that we do not need this coal power to meet the country’s electricity needs, now or in the future, and it adds significant costs and emissions to SA’s electricity system. SA’s electricity needs can be met by available and less harmful renewable energy alternatives, which are also cheaper than the proposed new coal-fired power.

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