News and Updates
- Saturday, 06 July 2019
- Written by Mike
As part of the establishment and implementation of the green economy system in Gabon, the Network of Civil Society Organizations for the Green Economy in Central Africa (ROSCEVAC) recently set up an office in Mouila in southern Gabon, to fully play its role of observation and monitoring as an institution of ECCAS.
"The opening of the ROSCEVAC headquarters in Mouila is timely because it will strengthen the environmental and social watch, awareness and capacity of local civil society organizations," said Nicaise Moulombi, president of this platform of the environmental leaders of the sub-region and 2nd Vice-President of the Social and Environmental Economic Council.
This Roscevac facility, it must be emphasized, coincided with the official launch of the Capacity Building Support Project for Civil Society Actors for Greater Community Involvement in Implementing the REDD + Process in the Community province of Ngounié. A project that is supported by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the OLAM Group, the Société des Brasseries du Gabon (SOBRAGA), the Seydou Kane Foundation for Sustainable Development and for Health.
Indeed, one of the roles of the civil society is to accompany the development impelled by the rulers. This development must be done in compliance with the commitments of the various international instruments to which Gabon has subscribed voluntarily and at the same level of requirement of international standards and in particular through the zero deforestation objectives promoted in the RSPO certification, including one of the major economic operators of the place is holder, including OLAM-PALM.
Strengthening the capacities of civil society actors must ultimately lead to the improvement of the living conditions of local populations by promoting low-carbon industrial development and combating the effects of climate change.
There was celebration at the Supreme Court in Nairobi when a National Land Tribunal cancelled a firm’s licence and ordered a new Environment Impact Assessment before a coal-fired power project could be considered.
Like most coal power plants, the Lamu coal-fired power project, if let to continue, would have generated Green House gases beyond what is comfortable for humans and the rest of the biodiversity around the plant, according to experts.
The Kenyan court ruling that saw the cancelling of a licence belonging to AMU Power, a consortium that won the tender to put up the plant, gave a reprieve to many. At the same time, the court asked the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to do adequate community engagement, as what was done did not fit the magnitude of the project envisioned.
The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) has been pushing for the climate justice, and seeing such a move taken by the courts over what has displayed vested interests than genuine need to provide power for Kenyans, was something worth commending the Judiciary for, according to Mithika Mwenda, a climate justice champion.
Mithika, the PACJA Executive Director, gave a speech on the ruling. “Kenya must not turn her back on set green goals. We are a party to the Paris Agreement of 2015. We promised to sustain our renewable sources of energy and reduce our small carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2030. Let us do the right thing,” Mithika said in a statement read on his behalf outside the court soon after the ruling.
“Continuing with the construction of a coal-powered plant in Lamu would increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 700 per cent. Why would anyone continue to support such a project, unless they are out to slowly but surely wipe out generations or gain materially,” he posed.
Other people shared Mithika’s sentiments. “This was a great victory in so many levels, in terms of upholding certain values of sustainable development under the Constitution, amplifying and recognising the voices and concerns of people of Lamu, so that this is no longer just seen as a crusade against development, but need to open a public debate about weighing the costs and benefits of development projects and making sure that where there are concerns sufficient protections are put in place so that development is inclusive,” said Mark Odanga, a lawyer from a non-governmental organisation present at the court.
The five-judge bench faulted the AMU Power and NEMA for failing to conduct a proper people participation exercise and ordered a repeat of the same.
“The second respondent (AMU power) is hereby ordered to cease the construction of the coal plant in Lamu until a fresh Environment Assessment Impact and public participation is undertaken, and the outcome of the report be published publicly,” read the ruling presented by Justice Mohammed Balala on behalf of the rest of the bench.
“The second respondent (NEMA) acted in violation in issuing the first respondent (AMU power) with an operating license without having adequately involved Lamu residents in public participation as required by the law,” Balala added.
A lot of nations are moving towards green air. The Green House Gas emission is not welcome in a country that is a signatory to the 2015 Paris Agreement, according to the Civil Society Organisations that have been opposed to the Lamu power project.
“These are forces that want the poor fisher-folk to go without food; forces that care less about Lamu’s 700 year history and the fact that this is a UNESCO site...” PACJA’s Mithika has said of the firms involved in the intended construction of the plant.
In an earlier statement, he wondered why China was getting involved in the Lamu coal project. “Why is China funding this and other coal-powered projects around the world when, as a nation, it is shifting towards clean and renewable energy back home? We all know that this is because the Chinese want market for their coal. The Chines are therefore not funding us; we are being robbed in broad daylight.”
Mithika also had a word for NEMA: “The National Environmental Management Authority disappointed many. You (NEMA) could have done better than this as expected champions of safe environment. How could you have failed to notice the air quality impacts of the construction and operation of the proposed coal power plant locally?”
Besides the aforementioned, PACJA has been opposed to the project because of the noise during the operation phase, especially for the permanent workers who would live in a camp on or near the site.
Others are the terrestrial and marine ecological impact that is likely to be insurmountable at this shoreline.
“And it is not lost on us that the project will discharge heated waste water or effluent into the sea, which could potentially affect the Manda Bay’s marine biodiversity, including mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass beds,” Mithika said in his statement.
Others are the elevated temperature at the discharge outlet that could affect the marine ecology in the vicinity of the discharge outlet, as international best practice and national legislation allow a maximum variation of 3°C.Read more
This is a Win for Kenya, and Justice for the Poor Lamu People?
We stand here to celebrate the ruling of the National Environment Tribunal on the coal-powered project in Lamu.
This is in deed a win, though not only for the Lamu people but for the taxpayers, who were bound to lose and owe billions of shillings for a project that was only going to increase cost of power.
This country has for years fallen prey to the greedy East, which is itself moving towards cleaner and renewable energy, yet still funding a coal power project in Kenya’s Lamu, in disregard of the biodiversity around it and the fact that we will remain with a stranded asset. Why should China preach wine, and take water?
Today, as we walked to the Supreme Court for the National Environment Tribunal’s ruling on the coal-powered project in Lamu, we were hopeful that the ruling would favour the Lamu people, and Kenyans.
We thank the Tribunal for listening to the voice of reason. May the Government and investors do the same for that is the only way we shall save the ecosystem.
Funding for this project can be redirected to the unexploited solar energy, which would be safer and cheaper. What if we empowered the locals and maximised on security, agriculture and tourism at the coast? We would still have enough to export and earn foreign exchange than rely on coal powered project that would leave many displaced, sick and others dead besides having to do with a stranded asset.
The tribunal has taken the narrow path followed by a few. But it is not in vain. It is not the numbers that will save the environment and the people in Lamu, but the right decisions and actions.
We call upon our Parliament, National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), the private sector, the Executive and even the Judiciary, to stay on course and ensure this project does not continue. Wanjiku must live. The poor folk down at the Coast have suffered enough already. Let us help them grow the economy, rather than displace them and destroy their livelihoods.
Besides, it is not always that a country harbours assets like the Lamu’s 700-year history and the fact that this is a UNESCO site.
With this ruling, the taxpayer is on course to being saved from owing billions of shillings on a project that would have been more of a liability than asset.
It is not by accident or out of ignorance that China is funding this and other coal-powered projects around the world when, as a nation, it is shifting towards clean and renewable energy back home. The Chinese just want market for their coal and expertise. Continuing with the Lamu project would, therefore be allowing them to rob us in broad daylight.
Kenya must not turn her back on set green goals. We are a party to the Paris Agreement of 2015. We promised to sustain our renewable sources of energy and reduce our small carbon footprint by 30 per cent by 2030. Let us do the right thing.
Continuing with the construction of a coal-powered plant in Lamu would increase greenhouse gas emissions by up to 700 per cent. Why would anyone continue to support such a project, unless they are out to slowly but surely wipe out generations or gain materially?
NEMA should stay true to its mandate and prioritise biodiversity, not allowing implementation of projects that kill biodiversity for the short time they exist. Coal is not cool, and as champions of safe environment, NEMA could have done better in the environmental impact assessment of the Lamu coal powered project.
How could NEMA have failed to foresee the possible air quality impacts of the construction and operation of the proposed coal power plant locally?
What about the noise during the operation phase, especially for the permanent workers who would live in a camp on or near the site? The terrestrial and marine ecological impacts would be insurmountable at the shoreline. It is not lost on Kenyans that the project would discharge heated wastewater or effluent into the sea, potentially affecting the Manda Bay’s marine biodiversity, including mangroves, coral reefs and sea grass beds. The elevated temperature at the discharge outlet would obviously affect the marine ecology in the vicinity of the discharge outlet. Yet international best practice and national legislation allow a maximum variation of 3°C.
We urge President Uhuru Kenyatta to order the cancelation of this project on grounds that it is hazardous and a rip-off. May he listen to the voice of reason from genuine experts. This will contribute to his legacy. He will be remembered not only as the President who saved humanity and left this country healthy and peaceful, but also as one who saved us from opportunists out to feast on poor Kenyans, even when corruption and inflation won’t let them breath.
We appeal to the Government to focus on the unexploited solar energy, and appeal to the public to reject any future plans to implement destructive projects, all for the sake of our children and their children’s children.
As civil society, we shall continue to stand with the Lamu people and Kenyans and fight for clean and renewable energy.
The fight continues.
Pan African Climate Justice AllianceRead more
PACJA Executive Director’s statement following the demise of Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore on July 1, 2019-07-01
Fare thee well Bob Collymore
After years of steering Safaricom to greater heights, Bob Collymore bows out today, to an unknown land.
It is sad day. It is a loss for many.
One thing is, however, for sure; Bob Collymore did indeed fight a good all-round fight. We called more, but we also learnt a lot from his resilience to the killer cancer since 2017.
That he was bent on ensuring Safaricom sustained its niche as one of the most profitable telcos in the region and a source of employment and revenue for many, was not in doubt. But Bob Collymore also took time to think of other issues, such as climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals. He worried about effects of the climate crisis, as expressed in an article titled: Africa doesn’t need aid; it needs climate action, which he published earlier this year.
“…businesses must send strong signals to governments in support of ambitious climate policy. We must work together to make bold policy changes that address climate change, provide financing and incentives for private sector investment, and build capacity for Africa – and the rest of the world – to become more resilient to global warming. We’ve talked long enough; the time for action is now,” Bob Collymore had said early in the year.
As an ardent climate justice fighter, the statement made a lot of sense to me as an individual, and for our team at the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).
We will continue this fight. We will continue to call upon the private sector, businesses and individuals to join in the fight for cleaner environment, food, and the air we breath.
We might not do so much, but whatever we do, little as it may be, as Bob Collymore put it, it is something, and it may help someone.
The death of Collymore is a loss for Safaricom, Kenya and the entire world.
Rest in Peace Bob! We promise to call for more involvement of private sector and businesses in this fight against Climate Justice.
The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance.Read more
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