On June 26, 2019, “the National Environment Tribunal (NET) cancelled the license issued by the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to Amu Power for the construction of the Lamu Coal Power Plant. NET ordered Amu Power to undertake a new Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the project.” With this new order, it means that the issue is not over yet. In Lamu, Kenya, many citizens have been waiting for this news because they have made it clear numerous times that they did not want a coal plant in their community. As temperatures continue to rise worldwide and air quality worsens as a result of human activities such as the production of energy from fossil fuels, various individuals and organizations feel the need to take matters into their own hands and reverse the unsustainable path we are moving towards.
Be it in Lamu or elsewhere, the fight to save our environment is up against organizations and individuals with economic and political power who are hungry for immense profits regardless of the cost. As the effects of global warming as well as air and water pollution become more visible, especially on public health, it is crucial that leaders worldwide make environmentally friendly decisions which will contribute to a cleaner planet capable of sustaining life in all its diversity.
To protect their hometown Lamu, which is a fishing community, a United Nations heritage site, and a popular tourist attraction, citizens decided to mobilize and protest. Save Lamu, a civil society local organization, and DeCOALonize, an environmental and social justice movement of individuals and organizations from the continents of Africa, Oceanis, Europe and North America and others, have been active in stopping the construction of the coal plant in Lamu. Their effort furthermore serves an even bigger purpose of protecting our common home, the earth we all share.
Developed countries, such as China, continue to rely heavily on non-renewable energy sources such as coal, petroleum, and natural gases, for many years. Due to the urgency of the issue of climate change, these countries have begun thinking of ways to develop more renewable energy sources. However, if China was truly serious and committed to making the switch towards sustainability, why would it initiate and support a coal plant in Kenya, whose energy to date mostly comes from renewable resources?
The ruling by the National Environment Tribunal which cancelled the license of the Lamu Coal Power Plant License proves just how powerful the coming of the public together for the common good can yield positive outcomes. This reinforces and amplifies activists’ voices in developing countries fighting for corporate responsibility reforms on several issues including, but not limited to, renewable energy, land grabbing, mining, deforestation, seed sovereignty, water grabbing, and pollution.
Written by Research Intern Magdalena Dutkowska.