Fossil fuel to the fire: Greenpeace lays siege to Kusile

Environmental activists on Monday began a protest at the site in Mpumalanga where the Kusile coal-fired power station is being constructed

Greenpeace spokesperson Fiona Musana said on Monday the protest started in the early hours of the morning with activists locking the gates of the construction site. Six activists unfurled a giant banner declaring “Kusile: climate killer” from the top of a crane, then climbed pillars at the site, and planned to spend the night on the pillars, she said.

Meanwhile, another seven activists locked themselves to the plant’s front gates bearing banners reading, “green jobs now” and “no future in coal”.

Musana said “construction of this place should stop now”.

Greenpeace Africa’s climate campaigner, Melita Steele, said the activists were there “to show that the true cost of Kusile is too high for South Africans to pay”.

“It is a price that neither we, nor the world can afford. Coal has failed to deliver electricity to over 10 million South Africans,” she said. “There are greener, cleaner and faster ways to bring energy services to Africa.”

Pledges by the South African government and others to tackle climate change were meaningless unless they stopped building new coal fired power stations like Kusile, Steele said.

Eskom says it needs Kusile, expected to be completed in 2016, and another coal plant under construction because of rising electricity demand. The state-owned utility also has renewable projects planned.

Coal electricity plants are the main source of greenhouse gas emissions by South Africa, which hosts climate change talks later this year. — Sapa-AP

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