South Africa’s Standard Bank has stated they will not fund the proposed Lamu coal-fired power plant in Kenya. This comes despite reports that they were a major project funder, as included in the bank’s annual report of 2015.
This is good news for the deCOALonize Kenya campaign and the Lamu people, who have been at the forefront of the contentious court battle against the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA). The environmental impacts of the Lamu coal plant have been underplayed, particularly the plant’s contribution to climate change. The controversial decision to build the 1,050 Megawatt coal-fired thermal power plant will have dire consequences, not only for Lamu County, but for the whole country.
“The fact that a major African bank refuses to fund this deadly plant sends a strong anti-coal message amidst financiers increasing unease when funding coal globally. Any investment in coal is a disaster for the planet. Financiers are aware of the poor financial return of these projects, especially in comparison to renewable energy projects.” warned Omar Elmawi from the deCOALonize Kenya campaign.
Standard Bank states they reviewed the opportunity to fund the plant, but for “various reasons” decided against it. This was confirmed by Nigel Beck, Head of Environmental and Social Advisory at Standard Bank.
“This is a wise decision on behalf of Standard Bank” said Glen Tyler, 350 South Africa Team Leader. “Building a coal plant near a UNESCO World Heritage Site will attract continued protests from the people it will impact. We have seen how shortcuts taken by prospective independent coal power producers in South Africa in accounting for their impacts have been exposed. These will ultimately raise the price tag of the plants – investing in coal is not a good financial decision.”