Today the eight finalists for the international Public Eye Awards will be announced, and our national utility Eskom is one of them: shortlisted to win the award for this year’s worst corporation.
Cast your vote for the worst corporation now: click here
Eskom has had a rather bumpy road this year, with delays, labour unrest and skyrocketing costs at their new coal power stations Medupi and Kusile, allegations of spying on NGOs (for which the utility has since apologized), the declaration of an electricity emergency last week, and now a nomination for the year’s worst corporation.
You wouldn’t be alone in wondering what the utility could have possibly done now to earn this nomination, so here goes: almost all of South Africa’s electricity comes from Eskom’s 18 coal-fired power stations, but this coal addiction has major impacts on South Africa’s contribution to climate change (the country is the 13th highest emitter in the world), our water resources and people’s health.
However, instead of shifting to the abundantly available renewable sources of energy, Eskom is applying 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.
The utility claims that complying with the law will use up scarce water resources. Greenpeace has long been arguing that Eskom’s coal addiction is in fact putting the country’s water resources at risk, so it’s interesting that water is now coming up as a reason for why the utility should be allowed to pollute more. They say that compliance will also push up the price of electricity, and it will cost too much (an estimated R200 billion).
The truth is that there is no such thing as clean coal, and the true cost of coal-fired electricity is destruction at every step. However, the utility is now refusing to comply with the basic emission standards in a bid to maneuver its way out of its social and environmental responsibilities, cut costs and fuel its coal addiction.
So now is your chance to hold Eskom accountable, and vote for them here: www.publiceye.ch
The international Public Eye Awards, hosted by Greenpeace and the Berne Declaration, take place at the beginning of every year in parallel to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. They name and shame the world’s worst corporations, eight of which have been shortlisted this year based on human rights violations, environmental destruction and corruption.
But Eskom isn’t your only option when it comes to voting. There is another corporation that you will have heard of before, in connection with the Arctic 30: the 28 activists and two freelancers who were arrested, and have spent two months in a Russian jail, before being released on bail (apart from one activist, whose application for bail was denied). And that corporation is Gazprom.
It was a Gazprom oil rig that the activists were protesting against when they were arrested by the Russian coastguard. Gazprom and their partner Shell are at the forefront of an oil rush in the Russian Arctic that President Putin says could be worth half a trillion dollars, and Gazprom wants to be the first company in the world to bring offshore Arctic oil to market.
So it’s not surprising Gazprom asked the Russian authorities to intervene and stop our peaceful protest, and that they want to shut down Greenpeace’s global campaign to stop Arctic drilling. It was a request from Gazprom, demanding that the Russian authorities intervene during our peaceful protest, that sparked the disproportionate reaction of the authorities and landed the Arctic 30 in prison.
The online voting for the shortlisted corporations starts today and is open until January. The winners will be announced on the 23rd of January 2014, during the WEF in Davos. So, please vote for either Eskom or Gazprom here: www.publiceye.ch
Read more about the selection process | Read who's at the head of the nominated companies