Molewa decides in favour of more carbon emissions.

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, 15 November 2016 - South Africa made a great fanfare of ratifying the Paris climate agreement on 2nd November 2016 just before environment minister Edna Molewa headed up the South African delegation for the next round of negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco. She celebrated her arrival in Marrakech by approving an extra 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year from two new coal fired power stations in South Africa.

The plants are planned by two would-be independent power producers (IPPs), Colenso Power and Ki-Power. Both were granted environmental authorisations by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA). groundWork [1] appealed to the minister to reverse these decisions because of the impact on climate, on air and water quality and on the health of the local communities.

On 8th November, the second day of the Marrakech conference, Molewa dismissed groundWork’s appeals. This confirms that the Paris Agreement is meaningless. All countries agreed to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees, and preferably to less than 1.5 degrees, above pre-industrial temperatures but they carefully avoided requiring any action to achieve that goal. Instead, each country decided its own ‘nationally determined contribution’ (NDC) and the combination of all NDCs will lead to the global temperature rising between 3 and 4 degrees.

South Africa’s NDC is one of the weakest. Molewa’s dismissal nevertheless confirms that it is disconnected from any action to reduce emissions. Assuming that Medupi and Kusile are completed and that these and other planned IPP coal plants are built and run at full capacity, power sector emissions will rise by around 90 million tonnes a year and exceed the overly generous NDC limits by over 50 million tonnes. Only the failure of economic growth will keep emissions within the very wide target range that South Africa has given itself.


Bobby Peek
Dircetor, groundWork, Friends of the Earth South Africa
Tel (w): +27 (0) 33 342 5662
Tel (m): +27 (0) 82 464 1383

[1] 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 Coal, Climate and Energy Justice, Waste and Environmental Health. groundWork is the South African member of Health Care Without Harm and Friends of the Earth International. For more information visit