The Life After Coal (LAC) Campaign and Greenpeace Africa say the Department of Energy (DoE) will face a legal challenge from them if the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP) ignores constitutional obligations.
The LAC Campaign and Greenpeace Africa believe human rights, and specifically the right to a healthy environment and to water, are as important as economic cost when planning South Africa’s energy future.
For this reason, the organisations say the IRP must take into account all of the external costs associated with the different technologies included in the IRP.
The IRP will be released in August after a brief public participation process, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last week.
A legal challenge, however, would be a severe blow to the DoE, which has been led by four Ministers in under a year.
“We are not afraid to take the DoE to court if the updated IRP ignores the provisions made in the Constitution. We were successful in halting the nuclear deal and we will fight again if necessary,” says Earthlife Africa director Makoma Lekalakala.
Centre for Environmental Rights pollution and climate change programme head Robyn Hugo says “there is no question that new-build solar and wind energy are cheaper than coal. We also need to take into account the cost of coal’s impacts to human health, water, climate, and the environment. Even if the updated IRP guarantees the cheapest electricity, if it ignores the [other] costs of each energy source, it will be in violation of the Constitution.”
In addition, Greenpeace Africa climate and energy campaign manager Melita Steel says a rational and lawful IRP is crucial to setting South Africa on the right path towards a just and fair energy transition.
“Urgent measures are needed to ensure that the IRP is in the best interests of all South Africans and we are prepared to take these measures, even if it means going to court,” she says.