Today marks World Environment Day 2016. It is another reminder to humanity to safeguard the environment and protect and preserve the planet for future generations.
The Ghana Youth Environmental Movement (GYEM) and key allies— Ghana Youth Climate Coalition (GYCC), Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO-Ghana) and Hipsters of Nature, acknowledge the role that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is mandated to play in this regard.
We strongly urge the EPA to put the interest of people and the environment first, in all decision-making concerning the 2x350MW coal fired power plant project led by the VRA and Shenzhen Energy Group to commence in April 2017. We particularly encourage the EPA to reject the ‘clean coal’ myth preached by proponents of the plant in an attempt to give impetus to importing coal pollution into Ghana. The Environmental Movement is adequately informed by available research information that:
– Designation of a technology as a ‘clean coal’ technology does not imply that it reduces emissions to zero or near zero. For this reason, the term ‘clean coal’ is misleading
– No clean coal technology, sufficient to cut emissions from current generators by up to 50 per cent, is economically viable at industrial scale or expected to become viable within the next five years
– According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), state-of-the-art, Ultra-Supercritical (USC) plants can run at up to 46 per cent efficiency. On World Coal Association estimates, those efficiency gains mean a USC plant could emit up to 40 per cent less than a regular, existing power station. It is important to note that the USC technology is even an upgrade over the Supercritical technology to be deployed in Ghana. This technically means the proposed technology in Ghana is likely to be shrouded with more emissions.
On the other hand, investments and employment in renewable energy around the world are rising against all odds:
1. US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) have provided $704k for a 100MW solar power project in Ghana
2. The world’s largest coal supplier, The Shenhua Group of China, is partnering with Solar Reserve, a California company to build a giant 1000MW solar plant in China
3. Portugal reached a zero emission milestone on May 7, 2016 as the whole country was powered by just wind, solar and hydro-generated electricity for 107 hours
4. Solar generated more power than coal over a 24hr period in early April 2016 to set a new British record. Meanwhile, since the first coal-fired generator opened in London in 1882, experts saying that the only occasions where coal-generation has hit historic low is now.
5. On Sunday, May 8, Germany hit a new high in renewable energy generation. Germany had so much renewable energy on Sunday that it had to pay people to use electricity
6. Renewable energy surges to record levels around the world. New solar, wind and hydropower sources were added in 2015 at the fastest rate the world has yet seen.
These are just examples of the path the whole world is taking— a transition from dirty energy to clean energy. Last month, The World Bank offered stark warnings which proposed that power plants in India, China, Vietnam and Indonesia would blow Paris climate deal if they move ahead. We believe Ghana should also listen to this counsel.
GYEM will continue to urge the EPA to be firm on its mandate and responsibility to protect the environment without compromising on the health of the people of Ghana and the integrity of our ecosystems.
Cc: Ministry of Energy, Ghana.
Ministry of Power, Ghana.
Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation (MESTI), Ghana.
All Media Houses.