Enviro activists zap Eskom coal loans

Enviro activists are campaigning against finance for South African coal power stations, citing degradation from mining, emissions, and shelved alternatives.

The USA Export-Import bank, Ex-Im, despite a new carbon policy supposed to reduce greenhouse gas, supports coal developments worldwide, reports a USA journal, Huffington Post.

Eskom Kusile power station in South Africa would emit 6.8-million tons of carbon dioxide per year, according to an Eskom environmental impact assessment (EIA). Eskom has a loan of $3-billion from the World Bank to build Medupi power station.

Kusile would burn 17 metric tons of coal per year, raising health risks like asthma and empysema from sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide above South African air quality legal limits. Environmentalists believe that large coal projects keep some countries captive in coal economies for decades, while development of alternative energies are kept on hold.

Coal ash waste mountain

A 1000 hectares of land is needed for Kusile power station’s coal ash landfill, concentrating risks of air and water pollution, including heavy metals, arsenic, uranium and mercury, which could cause cancer, neurological and developmental disorders.

Capital expenditure on Kusile would mostly go to imported equipment and skills. Eskom is also suspected to have poor corporate governance, financial management and project management capacity.

Multinational companies are the largest electrical power consumers in SA, with 38 corporations using 40% of SA power at reduced rates, many of these producing ore and other low benefit resources for export.

USA Congress has directed Ex-Im to adopt a 10% financing target for environmentally beneficial exports, specifically for renewable energy and energy efficient end use technologies, but the financier is very far short of the target.

India’s Sasan coal project funded

In June, the Ex-Im board initially rejected a Sasan coal project in India due to a huge carbon footprint, but USA president Obama, looking for votes in crucial USA oil states, pressured the agency to approve Sasan.
USA public money supports Ex-Im funding projects.

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