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South Africa: Kusile Mega Coal Project

In April of 2011, the Ex Im Bank approved $805 million for the Kusile project, a coal-fired power plant proposed by the South African Utility, Eskom.  At nearly 5,000 megawatts of output, the Kusile plant would be one of the largest coal plants in the world. The annual Green House Gas (GHG) equivalent emissions for this  single project –36.8 million tons - would increase South African energy sector emissions by 12.8% and the country’s total contribution to climate change by 9.7%.  The Kusile project would annually emit more than 150% of the annual carbon emissions from projects supported by the Ex-Im Bank in 2009.

The area where Kusile would be located already exceeds permitted air pollution levels, especially for sulfur dioxide.  Hence, even If Kusile is fitted with pollution control equipment, it will only worsen air local air pollution beyond permitted levels, at the cost of human health.  Approximately 1,000 hectares of land would be required to accommodate a toxic above ground fly ash dump for the life of the coal fired power station, which is key contributor to cancer related illnesses.  Because much of South Africa's coal is surface-mined poor quality coal, with high ash and sulphur content, it which will require washing before being burned in the plant, thus adding burden on scarce water supply as well as causing more pollution.

Meanwhile,  South Africa provides heavy industry with highly subsidized energy, meaning low and middle-income people will be forced to pay higher rates to pay for new large coal plant construction.   Less than 50% of the economic benefit of this project will be accrued to South Africa as more than half of project's financing will be spent on imported equipment and the hiring of foreign specialists.

Pacific Environment is currently working in coalition with Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, GroundWork South Africa, and other NGOs to halt this project.

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