Cairo, Egypt — 23 June 2013 The Egyptian government recently announced its intent for importing coal as an alternative source of energy, and has taken this decision without consulting with any of the relevant stakeholders.
According to statements published recently in newspapers, the Ministry of Industry plans to transform cement plants to rely on coal, whether existing plants or those planned for construction. It would also expand towards converting energy-intensive industry sectors towards coal. It also intends to run three power plants – under construction – to run on coal.
The organizations signing this statement strongly emphasize the adverse effects from the use of coal on more than one level.
In terms of the environmental and economic realms, the decision of the government neglects dangerous pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the burning of coal, and the magnitude of the hazardous pollutants and radiation as the main cause for diseases and health risks, worsened for incinerator workers or residents in the surrounding areas. There is also a disregard for the harm caused by coal-run plants on the soil and water quality in the areas exposed to the emitted pollutants. Not to mention the cost accrued to deal with thousands of tons of solid waste generated from burning coal, which is waste containing several extremely hazardous substances.
In terms of strategic and economic development, we find that this trend to rely on imported energy sources lacks any clear logic, in light of Egypt’s rich natural renewable sources for energy production. We have not heard about the expansion of investments related to energy generation from wind and solar energy sources, areas where Egypt has a comparative advantage.
At the policy level, these have been inherited from the era of Mubarak as policies seeking to maximize the value of the investment alongside rapid returns, without the slightest regard for sustainability or taking notice of the environmental impacts caused by these policies, which result to severely burden current and future generations.
It is noteworthy that this decision, despite seemingly providing a subsidized energy source, is in fact serving to provide a huge support to the cement industry, which in fact does not need any support, represented in the government providing the necessary infrastructure to switch to coal; thus showing that the government sacrifices the health of its citizens and the environment just to increase profits. This is a crime of great proportions against Egyptian society’s present and future generations.
The signatory organizations to this statement express their deep concern over the decision to switch to coal as an energy source, and the lack of logic behind it and thus calls for its immediate halt. The undersigned organizations demand such decisions are not taken without referencing a plan which guarantees the management of environmental impacts, while reducing health risks, and deals with the economic and social effects resulting therefrom.
The undersigned organizations to this statement:
- Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM)
- Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR)
- Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA)
- Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE)
- Green Arm – Nahdet Al Mahrousa
- The Egypt National Climate Change Coalition (ENCCC)
- Association for Health and Environmental Development (AHED)