Coal Conference in Cape Town neglects well-being of communities and climate emergency
This week Cape Town will host the Annual Coal Conference at The Westin, a gathering of business executives, lobbyists and government officials,to discuss the future of coal mining, processing and trading, a declining sector in urgent need for radical transformation.
Coal is the dirtiest and most destructive energy source in the world, contributing 40% to the world’s carbon dioxide emissions. This makes coal a major factor in our global climate emergency, which scientists say is an existential threat to humanity as a whole and may lead to the deaths of millions of people over the next decades, if emissions are not cut dramatically.
Coal causes the premature death of thousands of people in South Africa who live in communities near coal fired power plants. When coal is burned it releases a number of airborne toxins and pollutants, including mercury, lead, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulates, and various other heavy metals. Health impacts can range from asthma and breathing difficulties, to
brain damage, heart problems, cancer, neurological disorders, and premature death. While coal companies destroy the land and causes death in these communities, only 4% of the region’s employment comes from coal.
Understandably, community organisations in the region are resisting mining companies that open new mining sites on a weekly basis, whilst government fails dismally to enforce the already weak regulations. To avoid community protests, the organisers have deliberately moved the conference venue to Cape Town, 1700 km away from the affected communities, and too far for protesters to travel.
However, the organisers have not accounted for a wide network of activist organisations in South Africa who are committed to join the fight against reckless coal businesses and who will make sure the voice of the most vulnerable communities in the Mpumalanga highveld will be heard.
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For this reason, Extinction Rebellion Cape Town, has organised a protest
action and press conference on Thursday, 30th January, simultaneously with
the Southern African Annual Coal Conference opening at The Westin.
Several representatives of mining affected communities will be travelling to Cape Town to give
firsthand reports on how the coal industry is affecting their lives.
Source: Extinction Rebellion Cape Town
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