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  • Credit: © Greenpeace Africa / Mujahid Safodien

  • Credit: © Greenpeace Africa / Mujahid Safodien


Air pollution from coal on the Mpumalanga Highveld: The Constitutional #DeadlyAir #UmoyaObulalayo case

A key aim of The Life After Coal campaign is to reduce polluting emissions from existing coal infrastructure and encourage a coal phase-out. An essential part of this campaign is to highlight the way in which the pollution from coal and other industries is affecting the health of ordinary people, particularly those living in Mpumalanga and Gauteng.

In June 2019, after many years of advocacy, groundWork, and the Vukani Environmental Movement, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, launched Constitutional litigation to request the court to declare that the poor ambient air quality in the Highveld Priority Area constitutes a violation of the right to an environment not harmful to health or well-being, and to order the government to promulgate regulations to enforce the Highveld Air Quality Management Plan (HPA AQMP).

Media Release: Environmental groups take government to High Court over violation of Constitutional right to clean air (10 June 2019)

Court Papers

Air pollution from coal on the Mpumalanga Highveld: The Constitutional #DeadlyAir or #UmoyaObulalayo case

Events that led to the #DeadlyAir court case


Before instituting litigation, the Life After Coal campaign, and its members, published various reports and wrote many letters to the Minister and the Department of Environmental Affairs. We even participated in a documentary film, The Bliss of Ignorance. Most recently, the previous Minister responded, on 9 May 2019, indicating that she believes that there are no compelling reasons to take further action and develop implementation regulations for the HPA AQMP. A few of these reports and letters are below.

Need for regulations to enforce the Highveld Priority Area Air Quality Management Plan

Urgent steps needed to reduce the air pollution in the Highveld Priority Area

Implementation of the Highveld Priority Area Air Quality Management Plan

Need for effective dust control regulations

Need for an effective strategy to reduce air pollution in households

Presentations and letters to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs:

The campaign also commissioned a number of different reports on:

The campaign also wrote to the Minister of Health about the health impacts caused by air pollution:

Defending and enforcing the Minimum Emission Standards

Eskom has now applied four times since 2014 to postpone and/or suspend compliance with the Minimum Emission Standards (MES) published under the Air Quality Act. Eskom’s current application is for suspension of MES compliance at 5 of its coal-fired power stations that will be decommissioned before 31 March 2030 and once-off postponement of compliance at 6 other coal-fired power stations. 10 of these coal-fired power stations are located in the Highveld Priority Area.

The Life After Coal Campaign’s opposition to Eskom’s most recent attempt to evade and delay MES compliance, which is currently under consideration by the National Air Quality Officer, in consultation with local authorities in the Highveld Priority Area and Vaal Airshed Priority Area:

Other media pieces:

This page is a living document, and we will continue to add updated information.