South Africa’s Life After Coal campaign is calling for a closer look at coal’s impact on water. But just what are the true costs of the coal industry?
While a rise in renewable energy has meant the global share of coal-fired generation is beginning to fall, the material continues to make up a significant portion of many nations’ energy mixes. One such country is South Africa, which currently relies on coal for more than 90% of its power, though climate targets and a national water crisis have given rise to calls for a change.
The International Energy Agency estimates that global energy production requires 10% of the world’s total water withdrawals. Given that in 2017, prolonged drought and resource mismanagement resulted in Cape Town being only days away from running out of water entirely, it’s clear that every drop counts, and coal power requires more than just a drop.
The Life After Coal campaign is attempting to highlight the industry’s significant water costs and push the country to a cleaner, renewable future.
Launched by the Centre for Environmental Rights, groundWork, Earthlife Africa and Greenpeace Africa, Life After Coal is calling for the South African Government to address coal’s impact on the country’s water supply in its upcoming Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
The IRP is the nation’s electricity plan, which seeks to identify investments in the energy sector to allow maximum growth at minimum cost. The draft plan, released in 2016, has been accused of not adequately incorporating the external fiscal and environmental costs accumulated in the coal industry, and the campaign partners say they will challenge in court an IRP that fails to address the omission.
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