Statement in reaction to Government’s endorsement of the Lamu Coal Project, Nairobi, Kenya; 20 June 2019
Today is a sad day for this country and the taxpayers working so hard to feed themselves and the Government.
Today, I return to express my shock and disgust that the same government that purports to care for its people has stood before cameras and declared it’s intention to continue with the Lamu coal project, turning a deaf ear to the noise on the ground, and a blind eye to the realities.
It was not for show that Civil Society Organisations joined other Kenyans and marched in the streets of Nairobi to protest the appetite the Government has developed towards the coal plant project at the Kenyan Coast.
There have been more protests in this regard, and if the Government was listening and cared for its people, this project would be dead.
Despite the fact that these issues were so obvious, we raised them again to remind the Government to pause, listen and do the right thing. We marched to remind the Government not to listen to a few greedy people hiding behind local and international firms with a resolve to have the Lamu Coal project continue, no matter what! All we were saying was that Coal is not cool. Coal is going to kill our people in Lamu. Going on with this project will sink the country’s economy and push the already overburdened taxpayer to the wall.
Kenya as a signatory to the 2015 Paris Agreement is blatantly choosing to go against the grain, reversing the many gains we have achieved in our attempts to access and push for cleaner, renewable and more sustainable energy and in the end reduce carbon emission.
What is baffling is that the Government is not composed of people with low understanding of all the underlying issues, but it continues to act in a manner likely to suggest that it does not care how many people suffer the consequences of a Coal project, even if the economy sinks by a few hundreds of billions of shillings. We have seen countries in the world constructing stadiums with solar panels. Kenya can also take this direction instead of investing in killer projects that will destroy future generations!
The 200 billion being invested in coal projects can be direveted to cleaner and renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal energy.
Some of the harmful effects of coal will include 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. It will also affect the fishing community by contaminating the water disposed around the ocean
So who are the real faces behind this Lamu Coal project? What don’t they have? What don’t they understand? How many more lives must be lost for them to hear our cries? Doesn’t the life of that poor Kenyan at the Coast matter anymore? Why insist on the coal project when the Government itself has acknowledged surplus from our other renewable, some even unexploited energy sources? Everyone is moving towards clean energy. Why are we walking in the wrong direction?
Yes, there will be economic gains from the coal project, but for how long and at what expense?
We need our ecology and economy sound.
We don’t want to pay more debts; we are tired!
Kenya is one of the 196 signatories to the Paris Agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that vowed, in 2015, to mitigate greenhouse gas emission, and transition to low-carbon, climate-resilient, green economic development pathways. We must do the right thing. I urge the Government to give this project a second, third or even fifth thought, with the people and the rest of the biodiversity in mind.
We don’t want to kill our people, environment, unity and economy.