The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) joined Kenyans from all walks of life to protest Government’s plan to build a coal powered energy plant in Lamu.
PACJA was part of the Civil Society Organisations that braved the chilly morning in Nairobi, waving placards and banners with messages such as “Say NO to Coal”. While giving his speech at the peaceful demonstrations, PACJA Executive Director Mithika Mwenda asked the Government to rethink its stand on the Lamu project and save the biodiversity. He told Kenyans to refuse the construction of the plant and instead push for safer and renewable energy.
The Coal plant, according to a report released by an American firm, if completed, is set to cost Kenya more than $9 billion. This is nearly thrice the amount used to construct the SGR that cost the taxpayer $3.6 billion. Most countries have abandoned coal-powered energy and opted for those with minimal carbon emission.
Some of the harmful effects of coal, as put by the protestors are increased greenhouse gas emissions, production of harmful toxin during burning. Some of the gases have been known to cause ailments like cancer and asthma. Other disadvantages of having a coal plant are environmental degradation, risk of mines collapsing on miners, displacement of communities, pollution of water bodies and soil as rain water mixes with toxic substances and get absorbed.
Coal is combustible, and the threat of fire is never too far away. The fact that it cannot be renewed is discouraging, as it easily becomes a stranded asset.
In his speech, Mr Mwenda said: “Coal, as one of the fossil fuel-based energy source, is enemy number one of any signatory to the Paris Agreement.”
“It would be pretentious of Kenya to sign the international agreement with one hand, and erase it with the other,” he added.
Charles Mwangi, the PACJA Thematic Lead for Resilient People Society and Economies said: “We have geothermal energy and we have not even exploited 10 per cent of it”.
The march began at Freedom Corner to Nyayo House, in the city centre, where the media were briefed. The message was directed at Kenya’s Energy minister Charles Keter.
The march was to extend to the Chinese Embassy, but protesters’ procession was disrupted midway by police officers at the Harlingum round about.
The CSOs vowed to return and complete their mission.
The Coal plant case is set to be heard on Thursday June 20th June 2019.