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26 Feb 2018

Somini Sengupta, New York Times,
Somini Sengupta, New York Times,
Somini Sengupta, New York Times

Kenya: The first coal plant in Lamu backed by China triggers concerns over environment and livelihood, project frozen pending the outcome of court

…Kenya could soon get its first coal-fired power plant, courtesy of China. The plan’s champions, including senior Kenyan officials, say the plant will help meet the country’s fast-growing demand for electricity and draw investment. Its critics worry that it will damage the area’s fragile marine ecosystem, threaten the livelihoods of fishing communities and pollute the air. The battle over the project, which is frozen pending the outcome of a court case…

… The plan embodies a contradiction of Chinese global climate leadership: The country’s huge coal sector is turning outward in search of new markets as coal projects contract at home. A Chinese multinational is tapped to build the $2 billion, 975-acre project, and a Chinese bank is helping to finance it. It represents a test for Kenya as well. While its leaders describe the Lamu plant as a source of cheap, reliable electricity, the country is also seeking to become a renewable energy hub, …and a promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Coal could upend those goals. …

A lawsuit by a local group, filed in November 2016 in Kenya’s National Environmental Tribunal, has stopped construction in its tracks. … In court documents, the national environmental management authority, a semiautonomous agency within the Environment Ministry that reviews the impact of development projects, said it had approved the proposal. It maintained that “all environmental concerns were considered and mitigation measures were recommended,” and asked that what it called the “misconceived” lawsuit be dismissed. … 

Part of the following timelines

Kenya: Lamu economy including fishing, tourism & agriculture threatened if Amu Power gets approval to establish coal plant, includes company response

Kenya: Lamu Coal Power Plant