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6 Mar 2017

BizCommunity (South Africa)

So. Africa: NGOs take minister & Exxaro to court over proposed coal-fired plant; judgement reserved in country's first climate change case

"Judgement reserved in Thabametsi climate case", 6 March 2017

Judgment in South Africa's first climate change case, where Earthlife Africa (ELA) [represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights] challenged the minister of environmental affairs' decision to uphold the environmental authorisation for the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power station in Limpopo, was reserved last week...If ELA is successful, the authorisation for Thabametsi will be set aside and referred back to the DEA [Department of Environmental Affairs]. The department will then need to consider the full and final climate change impact assessment, along with public comment thereon, before making a decision whether to re-issue the authorisation. Such an order by the court would also have wider implications for the consideration of climate impacts in the authorisation of future coal-fired power stations...It is also well established that climate change will significantly impact the country’s developmental needs, which include the need for water, clean air and clean energy, ELA said in a statement...Despite the fact that Eskom has been reporting excess electricity capacity since May 2016, both the minister and Thabametsi argued in court that ELA’s position ignored economic considerations given South Africa’s “energy crisis” and developmental needs...Thabametsi’s own reports indicate that the power station, if it proceeds, would have an operational lifespan of 40 years. It would emit 8,2m tons of carbon dioxide equivalent each year, thereby contributing up to 2% to South Africa’s total GHG emissions by 2020, and up to 3,9% by 2050.