Stop building new coal-fired power stations to avoid climate chaos, says Greenpeace

Press release - September 27, 2013
Pretoria, 27 September 2013 – On the same day as the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) [1] releases its Fifth Assessment Report dealing with the science behind climate change (AR5) [2], activists from Greenpeace Africa have staged a protest at the Department of Trade and Industry [3] offices in Pretoria against a proposed third coal-fired power station in South Africa, which was announced by Minister Rob Davies.

"We have previously observed with appreciation how the Department of Trade and Industry has both supported and committed to the development of the renewable energy industry. But the recent announcement related to coal 3 puts this commitment at risk. The choice to invest in yet more coal compromises the urgently needed renewable energy investments necessary to curb the threats posed by climate change" said Melita Steele, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa.

The AR5 report confirms what we already know about climate change, and makes it clear that it is now virtually certain (95% or more) that human activities have warmed the global climate system. The decade of the 2000s has been the warmest in the instrumental record and there are alarming signs of accelerating impacts accompanying the long-term warming trend. The scenario that keeps warming below 2°C implies that fossil fuel emissions will need to stop growing before 2020 and reach zero by around 2070. The longer we keep on burning fossil fuels and clearing forests, the worse our chances of facing climate chaos become.

"Today, we are handing over an open letter to the Minister[4], urging the Department of Trade and Industry to reconsider its support of coal 3, which is likely to sabotage the South African economy rather than reignite it. Building yet another coal-fired power station seems to both ignore the grim science behind potentially catastrophic climate change as outlined by the IPCC, and the opportunities offered by renewable energy. Burning coal to produce electricity is one of the dirtiest and most destructive practices on the planet" added Steele.

"It is critical to stop building new coal-fired power stations to safeguard South Africa's water resources, avoid human health impacts and avert some of the worst impacts of climate change.The global energy sector is the largest contributor to human-caused climate change, accounting for two thirds of global emissions" continued Steele

"But there is hope; it is possible to create a new future because renewable energy and the smarter use of energy can very easily replace fossil fuels as coal is phased out in a just transition. We just need to choose a better future than the one currently facing us, and there is simply no need for a third massive coal-fired power station" ended Steele.


  • Melita Steele, Greenpeace Africa Climate Campaigner: , Cell +27725608703
  • Mbong Akiy, Greenpeace Africa Communications Manager: , Cell +27716881274


1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the scientific assessment of climate change. It is most known for its comprehensive Assessment Reports, published every six years since 1990. The 5th Assessment Report will be published during 2013 and 2014 in four stages. The first release – Working Group 1 report (WG1) is being launched today in Stockholm.

2. The AR5 report summarises what we know about climate change, what is causing it, how it can be observed and what is ahead in terms of temperature increase, sea-level rise, glacier melting, and extreme weather events, depending on levels of future pollution. The signals on accelerating impacts make truly disturbing reading. In the past decade (2002-2011), the Greenland Ice Sheet melted at a rate six times faster, on average, than the decade before. Antarctic melting was five times faster. Since 1993 sea-levels have risen twice as fast as in the past century on average while the Arctic sea-ice has diminished significantly faster than projected.

3. On the same day, activists from groundWork and Earthlife Africa Jhb will be protesting outside Eskom's offices in both Durban and Johannesburg against the investment in a third mega coal-fired power station

4. The letter was signed by Greenpeace Africa Executive Director Michael O'Brien Onyeka, but we asked our supporters whether they think another coal-fired power station is necessary, and in two and a half days, 2586 people signed on in support of the letter protesting against coal 3. The letter can be found here:

The letter is also supported by the following organisations:

  • Umphilo waManzi
  • Mpumalanga youth against climate change (myacc)
  • 'CEJ' Coalition for Environmental Justice
  • Environmental Monitoring Group
  • Alternative Information & Development Centre (AIDC)

5. Photos of the protest at the Department of Trade and Industry will be available shortly.