It is no longer news that China has a very serious pollution problem. The World Health Organization showed in a study last year that they had found the levels of pollution in China to be well above safety levels. Coal production is definitely one of the reasons those levels of pollution have been recorded.
The country’s manufacturing dominance in the world came at the rather high cost of that pollution. Now, however, China is consciously fighting the air pollution within its borders and one of the ways the country has done that is to transform the sources of energy that it uses domestically.
China is now switching to renewable energy to reverse decades of environmental pollution. With the switch to renewable energy, however, China has had to find a place for the jobs and industries that will not fit into that system. The country has turned to the African continent for those solutions.
African countries who may have been enjoying their partnership with China so far will now probably see the construction of outdated, dirty coal plants in their own borders.
Kenya is one of the countries in question now home to Amu Coal—a consortium of Kenyan and Chinese energy and investment firms. Amu coal wants to begin building a coal production plant about 20 kilometers from the town of Lamu on the mainland coast, at the mouth of Dodori Creek.
Where this may seem like yet another economic collaboration between China and another African country it is not really good news for Kenya due to a number of salient reasons that we will discuss below.
Coal production in Kenya will lead to air pollution
Coal releases toxic substances into the environment and these toxic substances can go into the atmosphere, rain, groundwater, and seawater – and then to flora, fauna, and people.
The coal intended for use by Amu coal releases large amounts of toxins, particularly if improperly burned and there is no credible plan for disposing of the waste.
Health Problems will arise from said air pollution
The toxins from burning coal eventually get to the people and as Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department of Public Health, commented on the study into China’s pollution problem said;
“Urban air pollution continues to rise at an alarming rate, wreaking havoc on human health, at the same time, awareness is rising and more cities are monitoring their air quality. When air quality improves, global respiratory and cardiovascular-related illnesses decrease.”
Kenya will break its promise to the global community
Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, Kenya’s Jubilee government committed to reducing its own contribution to global carbon dioxide emissions by 30% by 2030. The emissions of the coal plant alone will double Kenya’s energy sector’s entire CO2 emissions.