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  • Credit: © Greenpeace Africa / Mujahid Safodien

  • Credit: © Greenpeace Africa / Mujahid Safodien

  • Credit: © Greenpeace Africa / Mujahid Safodien


Life After Coal calls out Energy Minister on misleading “clean coal” comments

05 March 2019 at 11:07 am

The Life After Coal Campaign, comprising Earthlife Africa, groundWork and Centre for Environmental Rights, has written to Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe in response to recent public statements made by the Minister about so-called “clean coal technologies” [1].

The letter to Minister Radebe of 1 March 2019 refers to and attaches a fact sheet and technical report titled “The Myth of Clean Coal: Why coal can only ever be dirty”. This report, launched earlier this year, sets out in detail what makes coal “dirty”; why the technologies promoted by “clean coal” proponents are not, and can never be a solution; and the types of emission reduction technologies available to comply with South Africa’s existing air pollution laws. There is no single definition of “clean coal”, and there are no solutions or technologies to neutralise all – or even most – of the dire environmental, health, and climate change impacts caused by coal, including the mining, beneficiation, and combustion of coal.

“Clean coal” is a myth perpetuated by proponents of coal with vested commercial interests in the survival of the coal industry, in South Africa and internationally, says Bobby Peek, director of groundWork. “By supporting this narrative in circumstances where South Africa has an abundance of significantly cleaner and cheaper alternative energy sources – such as wind and solar power, government risks:

  1. further subsidising the already-expensive coal sector;
  2. delaying the inevitable and necessary just transition away from coal, and consequently stranding the workforce and redundant coal-fired power plants; and
  3. delaying the urgent need to reduce South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

The Campaign calls upon all government departments to stop pinning futile hopes on mythical “clean coal”, and misleading the public. Instead, South Africa should focus on decommissioning our coal infrastructure in a way that supports coal workers and their families.


[1] An example is the following statement, made during a Media Conference by Minister Jeff Radebe on 24 February 2019 regarding the Independent Power Producers: “… This however, does not mean we shall not procure cleaner coal-fired technologies in the future. Coal is part of the energy mix and due to the abundance thereof, South Africa would be hard-pressed should we abandon coal-fired generation.” Available at