OTHER ENERGY CHEAPER

Scrap killer Lamu coal plant, scholar warns

Environment scholar says coal is 'the past', air pollution causeS seven to nine million deaths every year

In Summary

• Those pushing for coal either don't know the real cost or they're pushed by rich and powerful lobbies 

•Coal plant will make universal healthcare more expensive 

Residents ride a motorbike past the proposed site of East Africa’s first coal plant in Kwasasi village, near the coastal town of Lamu
Residents ride a motorbike past the proposed site of East Africa’s first coal plant in Kwasasi village, near the coastal town of Lamu
Image: FILE

A scholar warned Kenya yesterday against putting up coal plant in Lamu, citing "dire consequences" for health and environment.

Professor Paul Ekins, one of the authors of the 'Global Environment Outlook' report, urged  Kenya to avoid coal as much as possible.

He spoke to the Star at the sidelines of the launch of the report at the UN Environment Assembly.

"Coal is not the future, coal is the past," he warned.

Ekins said other sources of power, such as solar, are cheaper than coal.

"If you are still pushing for coal, it can only be two reasons, either the policymakers do not know the real cost and they will end up paying more than they need to, or you have powerful lobbies in favour of coal that are persuading the policymakers to do something that is not in the national or international interest," he said.

Ekins said when new industries and businesses coming up, they do not have the political clout of the old industries.

He said the old industries are able to persuade policymakers "and very often give them public money as well".

"That is not the way to go, we need to move away from that."

The future of the Sh200 billion power plant hangs on the balance.

The project under the Amu Power Company, a consortium of Gulf Energy and Centum Investment, was expected to generate 1,050MW.

Ekins said air pollution causes seven to nine million globally deaths every year.

"That is an enormous burden for a health sector," he said when asked about the impact of the coal plant to the health sector.

Ekins said there have been strong calculations of the impact of air pollution in his home country, the UK.

"We know if you move towards universal health coverage and coal-powered stations, your health coverage will be much more expensive," he said.

A major report released at the UN Environment assembly warns that human health will be in dire straits if urgent actions are not made to protect the environment.

The report was produced by 250 scientists and experts from more than 70 countries.

It was released at a time when over 4,700 delegates including environments ministers