Press Release: GDF Suez is a pollution CEO not a Climate CEO, claim Earthlife Africa

Earthlife Africa Jhb

Johannesburg, 24th of April, 2015- Environmental justice organisation, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, will be holding a second picket outside of the French based company GDF Suez offices in Woodmead, Johannesburg. Earthlife Africa Johannesburg is appalled to find that the company, of which 35% is owned by the French government, is urging governments of the world to “set science-based global and national targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and the development of alternative energy sources”, while continuing to build carbon intensive coal fired power stations in developing world. Earthlife Africa Johannesburg demands that GDF Suez and the French government, pull out their coal funding in South Africa entirely and fund renewable energy instead.

The picket will be at GDF Suez offices (located at 6-10 Woodlands Drive, Woodmead, Johannesburg) from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm on the 28th of April 2015. A further picket will take place at the same location on the 30th of April 2015.

Gérard Mestrallet, GDF Suez CEO, has recently collaborated with 43 other global CEOs in signing an open letter encouraging world leaders to reach an ambitious climate change deal at COP 21, to be held in Paris at the end of 2015. In the letter, the companies claim that they will take voluntary action to reduce their own GHG emissions by reducing energy consumption and embracing technological innovations; recognize the need for inspirational global action on climate change, for which they claim that they will act as ambassadors; they also claim that: “Hastening the shift to a low-carbon economy in an economically sustainable manner will generate growth and jobs in both the developing and developed world”.

GDF Suez has endorsed this letter to world governments, as a so-called “climate CEO” whilst partnering with Exarro Resources Limited to build yet another coal-fired power station in the already devastatingly polluted Waterberg region of South Africa. The South African Department of Environmental Affairs approved the Thabametsi power plant in February 2015 despite there being no more room in South Africa’s carbon budget for any more coal fired power stations. South Africa has pledged internationally to reduce its GHG emissions from 42% below a business as usual trajectory by 2025. But, the Thabametsi power station represents business as usual and will render South Africa’s international climate change mitigation targets a sham.

According to Senior Programme Officer,at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, Makoma Lekalakala: “In France, GDF Suez is the second largest utility and generates 64% of its electricity from renewable sources including hydro and wind. The company has the technological know how and expertise to build renewable sources; but in South Africa, a country blessed with abundant resources for renewables, it chooses to back climate-change causing coal”. Earthlife Africa Johannesburg Energy Policy Officer Dominique Doyle corroborates that it is shameful for the CEO of GDF Suez to be calling himself a “Climate CEO” and an ambassador for global action whilst locking the world into decades of carbon heavy development. “GDF Suez CEO should rather be calling himself a Pollution CEO”, she says.

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:

Makoma Lekalakala
Senior Programme Manager
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 82 682 9177
Email: makoma[at]

Dominique Doyle
Energy Policy Officer
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 79 331 2028
Email: dominique[at]

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