According to a climate change impact assessment for the proposed Thabametsi coal-fired power station, its emissions could be 60% higher than that of Medupi and Kusile.Last week, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA), in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), submitted comments on Thabametsi’s climate change impact assessment, IT-Online reported.
Earlier this year, the North Gauteng High Court ordered the minister of environmental affairs to reconsider ELA’s appeal of Thabametsi’s environmental authorisation, with a focus on the climate change impact assessment for the power station.
Climate change impact assessment
The high court also underlined that it should have been considered before a decision was made on whether the power station could go ahead, media reported.
The assessment confirms that Thabametsi’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are going to be high, releasing 9,9 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) per year, and will have a GHG emission intensity of 1,23 tonnes of CO2e per megawatt hour.
The EIA also looked at whether the proposed power station will cope with the impacts of climate change. Read more...
It shows that water availability and deteriorating water quality in the already water-stressed Lephalale area pose a high risk to the power station’s operation over its intended 30-year lifespan, media reported.
Thabametsi – going ahead
However, with the all the concerns raised, the summary report concludes that the power station’s overall impacts are of low to medium significance, and that Thabametsi should go ahead, media reported.
ELA believes the findings of the climate change impact assessment are concerning, given South Africa’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.
ELA’s Makoma Lekalakala commented: “It is not clear why the Department of Environmental Affairs authorised Thabametsi to begin with, as it will have irreversible climate impacts. We hope that the findings of the climate change impact assessment now make it clear that this power station should not have been given approval.”
Also commenting on the development was CER attorney Nicole Loser, who said: “As with all proposed new coal plants which have not adequately assessed climate change impacts, or which have been authorised to go ahead despite the irreversible climate change impacts, if the Minister allows Thabametsi to proceed despite these impacts, our client will consider further legal action."
In accordance with the high court order, the Minister, will now have to consider the climate impact assessment and comments on before deciding on whether to uphold or dismiss ELA’s appeal of the environmental authorisation.
Featured image: Stock