Johannesburg, 26th July 2016. If there is any country that truly carries the environmental and social burden of dirty energy production choices, it is Japan. Yet, Japanese companies continue to unscrupulously invest and build dirty energy projects around the world, and in the developing world in particular.
Marubeni Corporation, a global trading entity, with headquarters in Tokyo, appears to be winning the race as the preferred bidder for the Department of Energy’s Coal Baseload Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (CBIPPPP) for the 12000 MW Thabametsi plant in the water scarce and ecologically fragile region of the Waterberg in Limpopo Province. But, Marubeni’s reputation is far from clean.
On the 15th of May 2014, Marubeni Corporation was sentenced for bribery to high- ranking government officials in Indonesia in order to secure a lucrative coal power project. Marubeni pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and to seven counts of violating the FCPA. The plea agreement cites Marubeni’s lack of an effective compliance and ethics program and its refusal to cooperate with the investigation. Marubeni was charged an alarming $88 million for its actions.
Project Coordinator at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, Dominique Doyle claims: “It is quite shocking that the government would even consider accepting a bid from Marubeni for a coal- fired power station at a time when the eyes of the world are on the energy sector in South Africa for increasing levels of secrecy and corruption. Even considering Marubeni, with its poor track record is a big mistake: – and mistakes should be avoided at all costs given the Medupi debacle”.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg’s Senior Programmes Officer, Makoma Lekalakala agrees: “Even the French Government owned power utility Engie walked away from the project shortly before Marubeni bought in. The stakes are just too high: socially, economically and environmentally. Especially for a company that claims to comply with the highest sustainability and anti-corruption standards”.
For these reasons Earthlife Africa will picket outside of the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria on the 28th of July 2016. The Embassy is located at the Corner of Bains and Frans Oerder Streets, Groenkloof, Pretoria. The protest will take place from 10:00am to 12:00 pm. During the picket, protestors will peacefully deliver a letter to Japanese Ambassador in South Africa, Shigeyuki Hiroki, requesting a meeting to discuss their concerns about Marubeni’s interests in the Thabametsi power station.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, has been contesting the Thabametsi power plant since the early planning stages. Earthlife Africa Johannesburg argues coal-fired power stations are harmful to human health and the environment, and that renewable energy such as solar and wind are much more sustainable, economic and environmentally friendly energy sources.
Environmental authorization for the power station was granted on 25 February 2015, but Earthlife Africa Johannesburg asked the Minister of Environmental Affairs to set aside the authorization because the authorization did not comply with the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) and the constitutional right to a healthy environment, severe drought and water scarcity in the Waterberg region, inadequate assessment of the power station on air quality and climate change. Subsequently, the Minister of Environmental Affairs made a ground breaking decision to authorize the appeal but ordered Thabametsi to do a climate change impact assessment and a palaeontological assessment within 6 months (due in September). Earthlife is considering whether the Minister’s decision is lawful and whether or not to challenge it in court.
For further information, please contact:
At Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:
Cell: 079 331 2028
Cell: 072 157 2155