Press Release: Sasol Spends Profits On Undermining The State

Earthlife Africa Jhb

Johannesburg, 8th of September 2014- The world’s biggest coal-to-liquid fuel producer and the world’s largest on point source of climate change causing greenhouse gas emissions, announced star performance full-year profits in Johannesburg this morning. The global polluter attributed its reported 7% profit increase from last year, to R41.7 billion, mainly to record synthetic fuel production which increased by fifteen percent. Sasol announces the profit, at the same time as it is taking the South African government to court in an attempt to undermine the states impending air pollution control legislation.

Sasol’s profits are better explained in terms of ‘profits from pollution’ than increased production. In 2013, the company reported emissions estimated at 158.4 kilotons (kt) of nitrogen oxides (NOx), 214.6 kt of sulphur oxides (SOx) and total particulate emissions of 11.7 kt. All emissions showed an increase from 2012 levels. Despite the reported increase in emissions, the polluter announced on May 21st of this year that it would be taking the National Department of Environmental Affairs to court in an attempt to not only avoid compliance with stricter air pollution controls, known as the Minimum Emission Standards, but to have them removed altogether. The Minimum Emission Standards for existing plants should come into effect by the 1st of April 2015 and will control the amounts of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and particulate matter which industry pumps into South African air.

Dominique Doyle, Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, criticises the move by Sasol as an attempt to erode South Africa’s already young and weak environmental policy to a point of no return: “The court action will effectively allow for all other polluters to follow suit, with grave consequences for the constitutional right of people to live in a clean and safe environment.” Doyle reiterates that, “Communities closest to Sasol operations in the Highveld are especially at risk because the area is already considered a pollution hotspot in global terms.”

Despite reporting record profits, Sasol argues that coughing up the cash to spend on pollution abatement technology is neither reasonable nor feasible in the development context of South Africa. Sasol argues further that the Department of Environmental Affairs failed to do a cost-benefit analysis before setting the stricter Minimum Emission Standards. Tristen Taylor, Project Coordinator at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, however estimates that it will cost the polluting giant R25 billion to comply which is less than the profit reported by the company this morning.  Taylor states that, “It is well within the means of Sasol to make proper inroads to sustainable development in South Africa. The company has a moral and legal obligation towards contributing towards the future health of local communities who have sacrificed so much for the growth of this global chemical and mining giant.”



Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:

Makoma Lekalakala
Senior Programme Manager
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 82 682 9177
Email: makoma [at]
Dr. Tristen Taylor
Project Coordinator
Earthlife Africa Jhb
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 84 250 2434
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