South Africa’s first ever climate change lawsuit has come to a close, seeing the North Gauteng High Court rule in favour of Earthlife Africa against government.
The lawsuit was filed under the premise that there had been no climate change impact assessment done on Limpopo’s planned Thabametsi coal-fired power plant.
Despite this, the Department of Environmental Affairs and its Minister, Edna Molewa, granted approval for the project.
However, in a landmark decision for climate change activism in South Africa, the judge has referred the case back to the Minister for proper assessment.
“The court ordered that the Minister reconsider the appeal, now taking into account a full climate change impact assessment report, and all public comments received,” says a statement by the Centre for Environmental Rights.
“The judgement makes clear that the DEA and the Minister should have given proper consideration to the climate change impacts of the proposed coal-fired power station before a decision could have been made to allow it to go ahead.”
The CER has worked closely with the Earthlife Africa over the course of the case, and has already submitted comments on the plant’s draft impact assessment.
While the judgement will have lifted the spirits of environmentalists, it may ultimately end up being trivial if the power station is approved once more.
Government has notoriously continued its construction and planning of coal-fired power plants, despite the enoromous pollution they create.
The CER says that its ultimate goal, as part of the Life After Coal campaign, is to “discourage investment in new coal-fired power stations and mines, accelerate the retirement of SA’s coal infrastructure; and enable a just transition to renewable energy”.