The World Bank has approved the contentious USD3.75 billion loan for the construction of the South African coal plant even as the U.S., Britain, the Netherlands, Norway and Italy abstained the vote. The abstention, Inter Press Service reports, was largely fueled by climate-related concerns, possible health hazards and doubts over the efficacy of the project in providing a more reliable electricity supply.
“It is a welcome sign of change that the UK, and other countries, challenged the loan when it came to the World Bank board,” according to Eliot Whittington, Christian Aid’s senior adviser on climate justice.
The World Bank has underscored the project’s benefits such as employment creation and expansion of access to electricity. But critics raised concerns on the project’s environmental impact.
“We know that industrial development does not necessarily mean employment because we have seen jobs drop as we have large capital development projects in the country,” said Bobby Peek, director of the South African environmental justice and development group groundWork.
Critics have also warned of possible health hazards due to alleged illegal coal mining activities, which may contaminate rivers.