G-ROC is an informal network of youth -leaders formed with the aim of partnering with key stakeholders to champion the need for carbon emissions reduction while actively promoting renewable energy systems as a key effort in combating climate change.
Coordinator, 350 G-ROC
Accra – Ghana
E-mail Add.: firstname.lastname@example.org
- G-ROC standing up against Coal in Ghana
In January 2016, the Volta River Authority (VRA) in Ghana published a Scoping Notice to announce government’s intention to collaborate with the Shenzhen Energy Group Co., Ltd. of China (SEC) to develop a 2×350MW supercritical coal-fired generating units (including affiliated coal handling terminal), at Ekumfi within the coastal areas of the Ekumfi District in the Central Region of Ghana. The scoping notice indicated that the project dubbed as the “2 x 350MW Supercritical Coal Fired Power Plant” represents the first phase of the development which is to be further expanded either by a 4×350MW (or 2×600MW) supercritical coal-fired generating units. The plant is estimated to cost about US$1.5 billion dollars to be financed by the Chinese-Africa Development (CAD) Fund. The notice was to inform the general public as part of the procedures for the conduct of EIA in accordance with Regulation 15(1) of LI. 1652. Deadline for responses or comments from interested parties was 31st January 2016.
In response to this publication, 350 G-ROC wrote a Position Paper that captured clear reasons why the option of going coal is dangerous and should not be considered in Ghana. Subsequently, VRA requested for a meeting with 350 G-ROC to discuss the issues raised by the group [Ghanaweb and NewsGhana]. The first meeting was held on Monday, February 8th, 2016 where the top notch staff from VRA made up of engineers and legal officers was present. No official from EPA and Shenzhen participated in the meeting. At the meeting, VRA did PowerPoint presentations explaining why the proposed coal plant is a clean coal technology and that it has been designed to deal with the issue of carbon emissions and any challenge that has been raised. VRA indicated that a Scoping Report has already been published since December 2015 as required. 350 G-ROC still insisted that research findings show that coal is not in the best interest of Ghana.
On 31st March 2016, 350 G-ROC participated in a Public Forum organized by EPA at Ekrumfi community as part of the consultation processes. At the forum, there was inadequate time to exhaust all the issues surrounding the coal-fired plant thus 350 G-ROC decided to collate our concerns to further engage VRA and EPA. It was observed that, community members had their own fears and reservation about the project presenting an opportunity to dialogue directly with the community members separately. This we believe will aid the campaign strategy of mobilizing community members to protest against the coal establishment by themselves.
The group as planned did an analysis of VRA’s presentation and the Scoping report and submitted a Paper on April 14th, 2016 requesting for more information and further clarification. This necessitated another meeting under the auspices of VRA to further discuss the issues captured in our second paper. The meeting did not meet the expectation of the group as most of the concerns raised in the paper were not addressed. VRA
indicated that issues raised will be addressed in the ESIA. The meeting was held at Tema Thermal Plant (one of VRA’s plant site). The team was taken round the site for inspection to make a point that VRA in all its projects follow prescribed or acceptable environmental standards and practices.
With the aim of engaging all relevant actors, the team submitted a letter to the Executive Director of EPA on Friday 15th April 2016 requesting for a meeting especially when EPA under section 2(f) of EPA Act 1994 is responsible for issuing out permit for the commencement of the ESIA and approval of the project. EPA has still not responded to the request. The Environmental Protection Act, 1994 maps the mandate, functions, structure and funding of the EPA. Also, the mandate of the EPA includes formulating environmental policy and making recommendations for the protection of the environment.
350 G-ROC has received support technical and other forms of support from partners/allies such as 350.org Africa, Banktrack, Friends of the Earth (FoE) – USA, International Coal Network (ICN), and Groundwork – South Africa.
This Anti-Coal project segment is tailored towards Community Engagement Exercise made up of a two-prong approach: Community entry exercise and Community Forum.
- G-ROC standing up against Coal in Ghana
II.COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PLAN
Description: The Anti-Coal community forum sought to actively mobilize the community people particularly the youth and influential people (all key groups or categories at the community level were to be invited or represented) and provide them with meaningful and relevant information as to why they should reject any plans by government to establish a Coal-fired Power Plant in Ekumfi.
Purpose: To mobilize and raise awareness or sensitize community people on the dangers of Coal-fired Plant on their health and its negative impacts on environment leading to a stronger resistance plans of establishing the coal plant.
- Community entry: A community entry exercise was embarked upon to engage the various leaders in the 7 communities selected. The overall purpose was to seek their permission and approval for our intended workshop. It also served as an opportunity to discuss key issues to help our cause such as number of participants to be invited from each community (taking gender into consideration); appropriate venue or location for the intended forum etc.
- Community forum: This entailed organising a workshop for the selected participants on the dangers of coal. The planned forum was to create a platform for questions and answers to addressing any concerns on the issue of coal as well as serving as an opportunity to debunk any misleading information that may have been given them by government officials. The plan was to play a video documentary and employ infographics on coal effects to demonstrate the gravamen of the issue at stake.
- Stronger alliances and partnerships developed between community leaders and 350 G-ROC
- Ekrumfi and surrounding communities’ leaders (including chiefs and youth) well informed on the dangers of coal-plant and prepared to resist its establishment through non-violent approach.
- Communities’ leaders have better appreciation for Renewable Energy as more appropriate and willing to advocate for that.
- G-ROC standing up against Coal in Ghana
- COMMUNITIES/ VILLAGES TO BE VISTED:
- SARFA MPOANO
350 Field Team Members:
|Farid Shamsu-deen||M||Fieldwork Coordinator and the Principal Presenter (of mission to the|
|Portia Baffour||F||Assist in keeping records throughout the field work/ community entry|
|Samuel Hinneh||M||Principal record Keeper. Support in compiling a comprehensive fieldwork|
|documentary or report.|
|Benaiah Nii Addo||M||Workshop arrangement including logistics (venue, capacity, PA system,|
|projector, programme outline)|
|Benedicta Nartey||F||Team upkeep (meals and welfare)|
|Percy Ahenekwah||M||Assist in presentation (mainly in local Fante Dialect). He was very|
|instrumental and supportive when 350 G-ROC visited his community in|
|2014 on a similar Anti-Coal campaign (originally, the coal plant was to|
|be sited in the Western region). His knowledge and experience are|
|considered valuable to our cause especially when he understands the|
|customs and tradition of the community people we were engaging.|
III. COMMUNITY ENTRY REPORT BACK
As planned, 350 G-ROC travelled to the Ekrumfi community on Friday, 24th June and arrived in the community at approximately 14:00GMT which includes about 2-hour drive in search of a decent accommodation facility. Unfortunately, the team had to relocate as the facility we found was not conducive.
Prior to looking for another accommodation facility, 350 G-ROC met the community lead person to exchange pleasantries and to acquaint ourselves with the task to be executed in the community. The lead person made a couple of phone calls reaching out to the community leaders to inform them of our arrival.
The community contact person was very instrumental in informing all the chiefs, elders and organized youth
groups in all the communities to be visited about the intended work of the team.
Since the team had to search for a different accommodation facility, we could only engage one community instead of two as originally planned. We called upon the chief and elders of Otuam community at the chief’s palace where we officially announced our mission led by Percy after observing tradition or custom of the community. In his submission, he drew the attention of the leaders on some practices which could be dangerous to them as a community. He cited a couple of scenarios to demonstrate a point. If a hunter goes hunting and finds a dead animal or a fisherman finds dead fishes, he may not know what killed or cause the death of these animals but they will consider them as a form of “blessing”. Thus our mission is to educate and sensitize them on the intended coal plant that government intends to establish in their catchment area as such projects or plants have consequences on animal and human lives. As a community that heavily depends on harvested rainwater, it is important to know what the possible negative effects may be and how to take measures towards overcoming such effects. Moreso, he mentioned that 350 G-ROC is a small group of young people who are self-motivated and does mobilize its own limited resources to educate and sensitize communities on good environmental practices or issues. On the intended coal plant establishment, he rhetorically asked how prepared are they as a community for the project. Are they also aware of all the negative and positive issues surrounding the project? Thus our mission is to seek their permission and approval since they are custodians of the land to execute our work. He added that the team respects their authority and cannot invade into their territory and organize any activity or event without their consent.
The chief and his elders unanimously gave permission to hold the forum since our mission will benefit the community. The community leaders were informed on the date for the proposed forum; to wit, Friday 1st July from 10am – 12noon. Transportation arrangement in terms of conveying the targeted audience (community leaders including youth leaders) to and from the event location was also discussed. Detailed plan including number of participants per community (with gender consideration) and transportation arrangement were under the supervision of our contact person since he knows the terrain of all the communities. This practice was to make him (contact person) feel a part of the project in the spirit of promoting ‘shared ownership’.
To demonstrate their commitment or support, the community leaders indicated that they will provide a place or venue in their community for the forum.
* The presentation made by Percy (as noted above) run through all the communities visited.
During our inception meeting with our Contact Person in Day 1, the team reviewed the daily action plan.
The revised action plan was to:
- Engage the rest of the 6 communities in Day 2 since the communities were close to each other.
- Use Day 3 to visit the proposed venue for the forum recommended by the chief and elders of Otuam as well as the site where the coal plant is to be established.
- Finalise plans with the Contact person and travel back on Day 4
Below are pictures from the engagement the team had with the leaders of the 6 communities on Day 2
- Etubedu Community Outreach
- Kotenture Community Outreach
- Ekrumfi Immuna Community Outreach
- Aboano Community Outreach (where the coal plant is to be established)
We are unable to present pictures from Sarfa and Kokodo communities because we lost the device that was primarily capturing pictures and videos. All pictures in this report were from back up pictures from mobile phones and other devices from team members.
- Community members were curious about the project as they had some reservations about the project. A queenmother at Etubedu mentioned a case of the negative impact of Takoradi stonemills on the life of the people so they are not fully sure what this coal plant has in store for them.
- The queen mother at Kokodo community, Oheemah Nana Fosuaa shared her experience from a different community (Obuasi) how rainwater which the community people formerly harvested for drinking and bathing are no longer safe. People have been affected with strange skin diseases believed to be as a result of dangerous emissions affecting rain water. Such rainwater is only best for scrubbing the floor.
- The community leaders generally acknowledged that the welfare of the youth and unborn generations must be taken into consideration when making decisions, in this case something that bothers on the environment.
- The elders in Aboano in particular raised deep concerns about the possible effect on rainwater which they depend on for drinking, bathing, washing etc. For them such concerns have not been adequately addressed for their understanding.
- Chief and Elders of Ekumfi Aboano, Opinion Leaders of the fishermen group, the farmers group, the women’s group and the youth were not adequately properly consulted as the Scoping report claims which against the rules of engagement with respect to community consultations in any project that will directly or indirectly them. The youth at Kotenture (primarily a fishing community) initially refused to give the team audience thinking we were government officials.
- The youth are in high anticipation of the jobs promised but have not idea of the kind or type of jobs to be offered them and even whether those jobs will be temporary or permanent.
- All the community leaders engaged granted the team the needed permission and approval to go ahead with our forum and pledged their readiness to participate.
- In all the dialogues with the community leaders, 350 G-ROC emphasized on bringing them
MORE EDUCATION on the coal project but NEVER mentioned that it’s a bad project. The idea is to help them make informed decision during the forum once we provide evidence through video documentary and infographics.
The team visited the venue proposed by the chief and elders of Aboano for our forum. Eventhough the site (school facility) was within the community which would have been an added value; it would have however defeated our mission or purpose. The classrooms were not spacious enough to accommodate the chiefs, elders and other target groups expected from all the communities. Mounting canopies on the compound will certainly not produce quality visibility and will affect the ability of participants to see or
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view the presentation especially when much of the information to be presented are videos and infographics thus a dark or enclosed environment is most suitable.
During the public forum organized by VRA and EPA, it was held at the local assembly and even efforts made by the organizers to ensure an enclosed environment was not feasible. Community members found it difficult to see what was presented. And this experience is what 350 G-ROC intends to avoid.
Eventually, the team settled on moving the targeted participants to a hotel with conference facility, a location which is quite a distance from the community. This implied the need to make transportation arrangement for the participants. The hotel’s conference facility comes with about 250 sitting capacity, projection equipment and a restaurant to provide refreshments. This has implication on the budget but the team conceded that we need to demonstrate to the leaders that we do respect and acknowledge their importance in our campaign.
The team visited the site for the establishment of the coal-fired power plant.
The team finalized all ground works and travelled back to Accra.
Quite unexpectedly, on Wednesday, 29th June 2016, 350 G-ROC received a message from the Lead Person in the community that officials from the local district assembly stormed his residence to enquire why he is leading a group of people in the community to organize an event without seeking permission from the assembly. According to him, the local assembly stated strongly that the event cannot take place without their permission. If we insist on going ahead, the assembly will have no option than to bring in the police to stop our program.
Also the chief of Aboano (the exact site for the construction of the coal-fired plant) was also absent during our visit. He contacted 350 G-ROC and repeated the same message that the forum should be aborted.
Consequently, we had to immediately cancel all reservations with the hotel and charged our contact person to inform all the invited participants about the new development. Interestingly, the youth we are told are encouraging us to go ahead with our event and disregard the chief and the assembly. The youth suspect that there are some hidden truths or information been kept away from them. To further buttress their point, they said that the chief hardly comes to the community and alleged that he may have been compromised by the state officials.
Since 350 G-ROC strives to abide by rules and regulations we have made various attempts to meet the Aboano chief for further discussion. The idea is to possibly travel back to the community to meet him together with the local assembly. Unfortunately, we are not receiving the necessary feedback or cooperation to make this meeting happen which means we may not get the needed audience. This implies that, the team is unable to guarantee holding the forum in the community as planned.
Donpehene Ekumfi Etubedu Community [Chief Nana Koji Mensa II]
“From the engagement we had with the VRA, the organization made it clear that the project will not disturb the communities in anyway. We understood that
the olden day coal technology allowed emissions to be emitted far and near, which causes harm to people and environment. The technology for this one allows for the emission to be kept underneath. The machines to be used are capable to minimizing the negative effects of coal. People have been criticizing coal but the machine will help to reduce emission into the atmosphere. Rain harvesting is done by people who cannot afford pipe borne water, but having gone on tours organized by the VRA, we have been told that the machines can help to address any damage to water harvested through the
rain. We embraced it, the project will come to help the poor get jobs to do and the machines will not bring any diseases to people. I am not sure the project will contaminate the atmosphere”.
An Assembly member at Kotenkure Community
“Even Europe is shutting down and cancelling coal power plants projects but once the government is bringing a project and you kick against it people do not understand. This is because, they have different mindset of bringing the project; they think about the positive but do not think about the negative side. So I do not have any option, since it is going to create jobs for people in the communities, we welcome it. For now we are not thinking about the negative aspect of it, we are only thinking of job creation for the people, but the problems associated with the project, we are not thinking about it. Once you begin to voice out the negatives, people perceive you as not supporting the project. Even if I speak the proposal has been made to construct the project.
For now people will not see the impact until the project has taken off, people in the community are not willing to voice out the environmental effects, once you do it people tag you as politically sabotaging them. It is rather unfortunate that the government officials do not stay around to experience the impact, only the locals will experience. If EPA really thinks about the people in the project areas, they can prevent the project from taking place. They can advise government to change to renewable energy. There are people within EPA who scientifically are aware of the negative impact of coal and perhaps feel reluctant to inform the government. The government feels it is creating jobs for the people, but the impact will be felt by the locals”.
Queen mother-Nana Fosuaa of Kokodo Community
“Prior to the beginning of mining in Obuasi, people in the area used to harvest rain and use it for domestic purposes without any side effects. But once mining began, any harvested rain for drinking purposes ends with skin rashes for people. Doctors say the situation can results in deaths, which has actually led to many people to die. As a result we do not harvest rain for domestic purposes. In this area, once it begins to rain, people harvest rain for domestic purpose in this community and can lead to deaths as well due to carbon emissions”.
Dennis Aidoo – Spiritual leader of Aboano Community
“The chief has refused to sit down with the eldest and even the entire community to deliberate on the benefits and setbacks of the project. He always says the project is yet to begin so we should exercise patience. We are happy 300 Ghana Reducing Our campaign to sensitize the community on the coal project to learn to broaden our knowledge. VRA has already held meetings with us on the project. We told them that we do not have any expertise on the project, for instance emissions and the possibility of contaminating rain water and health implications for the people. We were told by the VRA that they have some technology that can address that, but once they have no started work we have not seen it. No compensation has been discussed yet”.
To be able to continue our campaign based on the information gathered from the community entry exercise, 350 G-ROC in place of the community forum organized a CSOs Debriefing session to share with them our findings from the community entry exercise. Currently, a number of CSOs are becoming interested in the coal issue at the national thus the team saw that as an opportunity to build a stronger force, leverage on resources and capabilities towards prosecuting a common agenda.
V.CSO DEBRIEFING SESSION
On Tuesday, 19th July 2016, 350 G-ROC organized a debriefing session for a number of CSOs who were mobilizing to campaign against the establishment of the coal-fired plant in Ghana. This meeting hosted by KASA Initiative Ghana was necessitated because of the injunction that was placed on our intended community forum by the local assembly office in Ekrumfi. Part of the meeting agenda was to:
- Share our field experiences and findings with participants
- Allow other CSOs share what they have done/or are doing with respect to the anti-coal campaign
- Agree on next steps in terms of collaboration
Below is the presentation made by Chibeze Ezekiel, Coordinator of 350 G-ROC.
The following were feedback and/or contributions by CSOs present after the presentation
- The need to have a strategy in engaging the Shenzhen Energy Group was flagged especially in line with the appropriate guidelines that charges Chinese overseas investments to consider environmental consequences.
- In terms of the clarity of roles of the government actors, it was indicated that VRA is the lead agency in this exercise and that EPA only creates or provides the platform for engaging with other stakeholders such as community members and CSOs.
- It was also suggested that the Environmental Management Plan and Baseline report should be demanded to help in our advocacy or campaign work.
- It was unclear if Parliament has ratified the Paris Climate Agreement as required by law for all international agreements. It will therefore be an opportunity to quietly make such checks to strengthen our cause
- Using existing laws or legislations to hold VRA & EPA accountable was strongly proposed.
- The notion of “clean coal technology” was debunked. A strategy will be using their (VRA & EPA) own language to debate them. For example, does clean coal mean there is dirty coal? It will be important to check what our policies, legislations and laws say about that to have a solid winnable case.
- The issue of coal been a cheap form of power generation was also contested. This called for the need to look at the economics of the ‘cheapness argument’. Have social and environmental impacts been costed as well?
- The use of social, economic, legal and political factors to debate or debunk coal power was recommended which meant that more players or actors are needed to support the campaign with their relevant skills and expertise.
- There are reports and/or researches on the negative impact of coal. But it’s also important to make a strong case for renewable energy through in-depth studies and analysis – using some countries as case studies where applicable.
- Declare a week of Media Attention from Wednesday, 27th July to elicit public discussion. – A 2-page document to be developed and circulated
The group also planned to capitalize on some upcoming events in Ghana to push our campaign and they are as follows:
- Ghana Renewable Energy Fair to be organized in Ghana from August 9th – 11th 2016
- West African Clean Energy Exhibition in Ghana from September 13th – 15th 2016
- World Energy Day on October 22nd 2016
The following individuals were selected as Media Focus Representatives for the CSOs Group Against Coal in Ghana.
- Noble Wadzah (email@example.com) of OilWatch
- Richard Matey(firstname.lastname@example.org) of the Abibiman Foundation
The community entry exercise was successful as the team met the key decision-makers and influencers (chiefs, elders, and youth leaders) in the communities visited. The response from these community leaders were very encouraging as they pledged their full support to participating in the proposed forum especially when the issues to be discussed bothered on their welfare. Indeed the feedback or concerns from the community leaders indicate that they have not been supplied with full facts or truth about the coal plant by VRA.
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Even though the planned forum has been truncated due to interference from the local assembly, our findings have provided us with vital information to strengthen our campaign. The various groups were not properly consulted as VRA claims in their scoping report and indeed not much consultation was done as required by relevant law or regulations. The spiritual leader of Aboano community (where the coal plant is to be cited) stated categorically that no compensation has been discussed which also contradicts VRA’s claim.
Furthermore, China’s Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Environmental Protection published Guidelines for Environmental Protection in Foreign Investment and Cooperation. Article 20 of the Guidelines states that Chinese enterprises “take the initiative to strengthen their contacts and communications with their communities and relevant social groups, and take opinions and suggestions with respect to environmental impacts of their construction projects and operation activities through forums and hearings”. Our findings show that Shenzhen Energy Group has failed to adhered to this directive as it did not conduct the necessary due diligence with relevant social groups when considering the development of the coal plant and affected communities. Again, the Chinese government is has created policy framework to regulate the environmental impacts of overseas investments. Some of these newer overseas investment policies should disqualify coal projects from receiving Chinese financial support. The first is the Green Credit Guidelines, which requires Chinese banks to comply with international norms and best practices when financing overseas. Already, an increasing number of financial institutions like the World Bank, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the US Export-Import Bank have all established bans on coal financing. Chinese bank lenders to Shenzhen Energy Group – in this case CAD Fund – should consider the financial risks of investing in a company that is itself investing in a dying industry. Given the international shift away from coal financing, especially when there are cleaner alternatives available such as use of renewable energies (solar, wind, biogas), construction of any coal fired power plant can be interpreted as violating the Green Credit Guidelines.
Our contact or relationship with the community through the entry exercise will undoubtedly reinforce our campaign to halt the establishment of coal plant in Ghana.
PRESS RELEASE: WEEK OF MEDIA ATTENTION
STOP THE COAL DREAM
In the next three years, if all goes as planned, Ghana will build its first two coal-fired electricity plants at Ekumfi Aboano, a coastal fishing community in the Central Region, 78 Km from Accra and 50 Km from Cape Coast. The Volta River Authority – the project proponent – contends that it will generate reasonably priced electricity power, offering a solution to Ghana’s energy needs. Given this, the government has secured a $1.5 billion loan agreement with Shenzhen Energy, a corporation largely owned by the Chinese government, to develop the project.
The construction of these first two coal plants is just the beginning. In addition to the plants themselves, Shenzhen Energy will build a new port facility to accommodate a 50,000 ton berth for the importation of the millions of tons of coal needed to power the plant, from Colombia and South Africa. In addition, after the first plants, the government plans to build additional facilities, for an eventual total capacity of 2,000 megawatts.
We are united in our stance that energy underpins any form of human development and progress – in general and particularly for Ghana – leaving no room for doubt about the need for Ghana to take bold steps in addressing the vicious cycle of its energy poverty. We equally agree that cheaper energy could be a game changer in poverty reduction and growth.
However, we believe that our energy development efforts and choices must be prudent and consistent with high standards. Having studied the available facts surrounding the coal development plan, including the ESIA scoping report put forward by Shenzhen Energy, we are left with more questions than answers. We conclude that Ghana must refrain from the coal agenda, based on the following arguments.
- Cheaper cost of Electricity
Proponents of the coal plants, including Volta River Authority (VRA), tout coal as a cheaper source of electricity. This claim, however, presents only one side of the story. The price of coal on world markets may currently be low, but mostly because governments the world over are moving away from coal. But we cannot ignore the additional, built-in costs of the plan. Construction, maintenance, debt service, and decades of importing a fuel that we do not have domestically will be extremely costly and will ultimately mean higher energy tariffs. This does not even take into account the environmental and social costs of burning coal, including the toll on public health. The loan behind this coal plant stands at a whopping $1.5 billion. Based on our initial assessment, we have difficulty believing that the coal plant holds promise for cheap energy.
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- G-ROC standing up against Coal in Ghana
- Perpetuating Energy Dependency
The justifications advanced for this coal project bring to mind the nearly identical arguments that were marshalled to support the West African Gas Pipeline (WAGP), a project that turned out to be a nightmare. In the middle of the last decade, Ghana incurred hundreds of millions of dollars of debt to finance the construction of the WAGP. We were told that the WAGP would solve our energy challenges by allowing us to import gas from Nigeria’s oil and gas fields. In spite of these rosy promises, Ghanaians still suffer from erratic power supply. We now know that it was unwise to rely on the WAGP as a reliable source of power, and we should apply that lesson here: there is a price to pay when we seek to rely on seemingly cheap and easy, external sources for our energy needs. We cannot discount our vulnerability and potential exposure to supply failures.
The Coal dream is on – on course to consolidate Ghana’s energy dependency. We have no coal here in Ghana, unlike the abundant gas, sunshine, and wind resources that we are naturally blessed with.
- Exporting outdated and Rejected Technology to Ghana
The proposed project would build “supercritical” coal-fired power plants – a type of coal plant commercialized in the 1960s. This puts coal development in Ghana at odds with the trend in most other countries – including developing countries like China – to build cleaner coal plants or limit coal development altogether because of pollution and climate change. In fact, in March of this year, China halted the construction of coal plants in 15 regions, and the Chinese have passed a law requiring all new coal plants to meet the efficiency of an ultra-supercritical plant or better.
So why should China be allowed to build supercritical plants in Ghana that are so outdated and dirty that they couldn’t even be built legally in China? The Chinese and their Ghanaian allies’ only explanation is that the two proposed 350 MW plants are too small to build more efficiently. But this is an untenable excuse. If the plants are too dirty to build in an acceptable way, then they should not be built at all. Besides, the project proponents have not discussed alternatives, such as combining the two smaller plants into one 700 MW plant that can use cleaner, ultra-supercritical or IGCC technology.
- Pollution and Climate Factor
Burning coal emits roughly twice the pollution of burning gas, making it the largest contributor to climate change. Noting that the average lifespan of a coal plant is over 50 years, the International Energy Agency has called for inefficient coal-fired plants to be phased out as a means to meet the global climate targets. In fact, experts believe that solving the threat of global warming will require countries to capture and store the carbon dioxide released by coal plants, but the plans for the Ghanaian plants do not include carbon capture and storage.
In addition, burning coal releases toxins into the atmosphere such as neurotoxic mercury, which will enter human bodies through the fish on which the Ekumfi Aboano community relies, and sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain and damages water bodies and agricultural land.
- Leadership, Inspiration and Contradiction
It cannot be for nothing that Ghana’s former president, J.A. Kufuor, was a former UN Climate Change
Envoy. Through the leadership of President Kufuor, Ghana espoused the need for bold action on climate change, notably during the 2015 international climate talks in Paris last year. But by committing to build these plants, we lock ourselves into over a half-century of large-scale greenhouse gas emissions.
Ghana’s plan to tread the coal path thus stands at odds with our leadership role in the international climate change arena.
Similarly, in a Presidential statement last year, China’s President Xi promised to “strengthen green and
low-carbon policies and regulations with a view to strictly controlling public investment flowing into
projects with high pollution and carbon emissions both domestically and internationally.” This project would be a direct violation of the Chinese President’s commitment.
In any case, we ought to be seen to be consistent with our commitment when President Mahama at COP21 in Paris said that Ghana is determined to achieve ambitious cuts in greenhouse gases.
On the strength of the above, we herewith make the following demands:
- We must refrain from the coal agenda and pursue a transformative energy system consistent with global development trends, while charting the path towards a people-centered energy future based on renewable energy.
- Ghana must take steps not to violate our country’s obligations under the Sustainable
Development Goals, which enjoin countries to take step that ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. The recent Paris climate change agreement states that ‘all Parties should strive to formulate and communicate long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.’
Instead of burdening Ghana and the rest of the world with high-carbon, polluting infrastructure, China,
the world’s biggest investor in renewable energy, should work with countries like Ghana to create a
clean energy future. Halt the coal initiative and redirect investment into renewable energy.
Signed: 27 July 2016
350 Ghana Reducing our Carbon (G-ROC)
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350 G-ROC standing up against Coal in Ghana
Advocates for Community Alternatives
Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA)
Ghana for Climate Change
Ghana Youth Environmental Movement
Oil Watch Ghana
Strategic Youth Network for Development