Earthlife Africa Johannesburg
Greenpeace Africa
groundwork (Friends of the Earth South Africa)

Embargoed Tuesday 26 November 2013, 11h30

Eskom shortlisted in international Public Eye Awards, parallel to World Economic Forum

Johannesburg, South Africa, 26 November 2013 – Eskom, which supplies 90% of South Africa’s electricity needs through its 18 coal-fired power stations, is in the running to win the international award for this year’s worst corporation in the annual Public Eye Awards [1], taking place parallel to the World Economic Forum. In a bid to maneuver its way out of its social and environmental responsibilities, cut costs and fuel its coal addiction, Eskom has applied for two-thirds of its coal-fired power stations to be exempt from and/or postpone complying with the law on air pollution standards (minimum emission standards) put in place to protect people’s health [2].

With the majority of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations leading to entire areas in Mpumalanga and the Vaal Triangle being out of compliance with South Africa’s Ambient Air Quality Standards, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg [3], Greenpeace Africa [4] and groundWork [5] have taken these applications as a flagrant disregard for people’s health. Thus, a joint submission was made to the Public Eye Awards to nominate Eskom, which has now been shortlisted with seven other corporations internationally.

Makoma Lekalakala, Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Programme Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:

“Instead of using South Africa’s abundant wind and solar resources to generate electricity, Eskom continues to use more expensive coal, poisoning our communities and destroying our water resources. Instead of helping to solve local pollution and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Eskom spends our money on expensive, dirty energy. It is selling out both South Africa and the world.”

During the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum – taking place next year from the 22nd to 25th January – the world’s elite 1%, including Eskom, will gather to discuss ways to increase deregulation of global markets and enable transnational corporations to gain further strongholds over the natural resources, livelihoods and labour of marginalized people across the world. At the same time, the Public Eye Awards – hosted by Greenpeace Switzerland and the Berne Declaration – will be exposing the human rights violations, environmental destruction and corruption that corporations, like Eskom, impose on people and the planet.

Bobby Peek, Director of groundWork states:

“The health impact of coal combustion in power stations is severe and the financial cost which the state must bear because of this is massive. Pollutants generated from coal combustion have major effects on the health of communities, particularly the most vulnerable such as the elderly, the young and pregnant women. According to a study conducted by the University of Pretoria, the estimated external public health cost resulting from Kusile in Mpumalanga, will be over R180 million, and 51% of hospital admissions in this province are from power generation activities.”

Today marks the launch of the voting period, giving the public the power to vote for the worst corporation. Melita Steele, Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Africa calls on South Africans and the world to vote:

“According to Section 24 of the constitution, South Africans are entitled to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being. Eskom’s application to be exempted from complying with air quality legislation clearly puts people’s health and well-being at risk, while giving the utility a license to pollute for the foreseeable future. Eskom is nominated in very bad company, surrounded by corporations like Gazprom, who seek to put profits before people. However, it is important to remember that Eskom’s application to pollute can still be stopped; it is vital that South Africans demand that the utility complies with air quality legislation by voting in the Public Eye Awards.”

The public can vote at

[1] The Public Eye Awards mark a critical counterpoint to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Organised since 2000 by Berne Declaration and Friends of the Earth, replaced by Greenpeace in 2009, Public Eye reminds the corporate world that social and environmental misdeeds have consequences – for the affected people and territory, but also for the reputation of the offender
[3] Earthlife Africa seeks a better life for all people without exploiting other people or degrading their environment. Our aim is to encourage and support individuals, businesses and industries to reduce pollution, minimise waste and protect our natural resources
[4] Greenpeace Africa is an independent global campaigning organisation that acts to change attitudes and behaviour, to protect and conserve the environment and to promote peace. Our mission is to work with others to foster environmental consciousness whereby Africa’s people seek social and economic prosperity in ways that protect the environment for the benefit of humans, the planet and the future
[5] groundWork is an environmental justice organisation working with community people from around South Africa, and increasingly Southern Africa, on environmental justice and human rights issues focusing on Air Quality, Climate and Energy Justice, Waste and Environmental Health. groundWork is the South African member of Friends of the Earth International

Megan Lewis
Media, Information and Publications Manager
Tel (w): +27 (0) 33 342 5662
Mobile: +27 (0) 83 450 5541

Bobby Peek
Tel (w): +27 (0) 33 342 5662
Mobile: + 27 (0) 82 464 1383

Siziwe Khanyile
Climate and Energy Justice Campaigner
Tel (w): +27 (0) 33 342 5662
Mobile: +27 (0) 73 830 8173

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:
Tristen Taylor
Project Coordinator
Tel (w): +27 (0) 11 339 3662
Mobile: +27 (0) 84 250 2434

Makoma Lekalakala
Sustainable Energy and Climate Change Programme Officer
Tel (w): +27 (0) 11 339 3662
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 682 9177

Greenpeace Africa:
Mbong Akiy
Greenpeace Africa Interim Communications Director
Mobile: +27 (0) 71 688 1274

Melita Steele
Energy Campaigner
Tel (w): +27 (0) 11 482 4696
Mobile: +27 (0) 72 560 8703