South Africa’s economy is based on an energy paradigm called the minerals-energy complex and this has led to it being one of the most energy and carbon intensive countries in the world. Its carbon intensity and high emissions result from two fundamental and related reasons: its reliance on coal as its primary energy source and its policy of supplying cheap electricity to industry. More than 75 per cent of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions stem from energy production, and more than 50 per cent of the energy is consumed by industries and mining activities.
The Coal Campaign began in 2013 and is a partnership between groundWork, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Centre of Environmental Rights to challenge Eskom, South Africa’s parastatal energy producer, and government to change the country’s energy policies and practice due to the many impacts of coal on people’s health, the environment and of course, its major contribution to climate change. Whilst Eskom is an evident target, the campaign also looks at resisting the construction of new independent coal-fired power stations and coal mines.