Earthlife Africa wins South Africa's first climate change case

Earthlife Africa argued in its case against the environmental affairs department that government had not carried out a proper climate change impact assessment before confirming the construction of a coal-fired power station. (Susan Comrie, M&G)

Earthlife Africa argued in its case against the environmental affairs department that government had not carried out a proper climate change impact assessment before confirming the construction of a coal-fired power station. (Susan Comrie, M&G)

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg declared a major victory on Wednesday after winning South Africa’s first climate change case and forcing the government to reassess the impact of a coal power plant.

The group successfully challenged a government decision to confirm the construction of a proposed coal-fired power station, arguing that the proper climate change impact assessment had not been carried out.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa accepted that the impact of the proposed Thabametsi power plant had not been “comprehensively assessed or considered”, but granted environmental approval anyway, according to the ruling seen by AFP.

North Gauteng High Court Judge John Murphy ordered the environmental affairs ministry to complete a climate change assessment before construction of the plant, due to be built in Limpopo, can proceed.

Earthlife Africa spokesperson Makoma Lekalakala said the ruling sent “a very strong message to government and to locals to take part in consultation before any decision takes place”.

“It is a landmark ruling that actually holds the environmental affairs department to account,” she added. - Agence France-Presse

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