Court orders Mantashe to reveal records of why he included coal in IRP 2019
The IRP 2019 includes 1.5 gigawatts of new coal-fired power plants.
Department of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. (Photo by Gallo Images/ Daily Maverick/Felix Dlangamandla)
Department of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has been ordered to release documents explaining his decision to include new coal-fired power plants as part of the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).
Mantashe has also been ordered to disclose records pertaining to the 2020 Ministerial determination for new coal issued under the IRP, and has been made to pay costs for the application.
The Pretoria High Court judgement has been hailed an early victory for applicants African Climate Alliance, the Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action, and groundWork, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER).
Documents must be released by close of business on 28 February 2023.
Should Mantashe fail to abide by the order, applicants may return to court and proceed with the case against Mantashe without his opposition.
The IRP 2019 includes 1.5 gigawatts of new coal-fired power plants, despite this being a costly and unsustainable alternative when compared to energy solutions such as renewables, and is not an energy-secure decision, the University of Cape Town’s Energy Systems Research Group summarised.
The introduction of new coal is also contrary to the country’s net-zero carbon emissions goals, expected to be achieved by 2050, which involves significantly reducing South Africa’s outdated coal dependence.
When the IRP 2019 was launched in October 2019, Mantashe said coal would remain the dominant energy source, contributing 59%
The remaining supply comprised of 5% nuclear energy, 8% hydro, 6% photovoltaic, 18% wind and 2% gas.
“This is a victory for our call for an open democracy. Governance decisions, and the reasons for these decisions, must be in the public domain so those in power can be accountable for their decisions to all of us in South Africa,” says Thomas Mnguni, groundWork Campaigner on the Mpumalanga Highveld.
Counting coal costs
The case forms part of a youth-led campaign, #CancelCoal. It was launched after government failed to respond to the CER’s letter of demand, sent to Mantashe in September last year.
The letter demanded that government abandon its new coal-fired power plant plans, forecast to cost at least R23 billion, or a 0.5% increase in electricity tariffs.
Greenhouse gas emissions would also increase by 289 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (Mt CO2-eq), going against efforts to keep global temperature increases below 1.5°C.
Temperatures above 1.5°C have already led to rising sea levels, glaciers melting, torrential downpours, and heatwaves, the World Meterological Organization presented in a report at the 27th annual UN Framework Convention on Cliamte Change’s Conference of Parties (COP27).
South Africa needs R1.5 trillion dollars over the next five years to pull off its Just Energy Transition Investment Plan.