Energy investment is important for any country, since it forms the foundation for development or lack of it. Which form of energy to pursue, is usually the biggest question. News that Kenya is going ahead with plans to develop coal energy raises serious queries on the government’s commitment to conserve the environment. For a country struggling to achieve the recommended 10 per cent forest cover, coal will simply aggravate an already worrying situation.
And this is one of the reasons why there has been a back and forth on the issue of the Lamu coal project, which has been vehemently opposed by conservationists. Kenya stands conflicted in this decision because, as countries around the world are moving away from fossil fuel; some forces seem hell-bent on increasing carbon emissions by driving the country in the opposite direction. We should ask what Sh2 billion can do if invested in clean, green and renewable energy, even as we ask what the costs in the long run will be if it is invested in already condemned coal. Last year, the country witnessed unprecedented weather patterns that saw long rains turn short and short rains become long. That should have been lesson enough on what nature is capable of.
While energy development is necessary, it should be consistent with the nation’s aspirations to conserve the environment. Research has shown that use of coal power is not the best. Conservationists argue that it is cheaper and more efficient to invest in green energy. The economic sense can be seen in the decision by some financiers to pull out of coal projects, arguing that it is not environmentally friendly.
The fact that climate change is rearing its ugly head is reason enough to rethink investing in coal. There is evidence that the fuel is a source of air pollution. It produces matter that is not good for human health, and that is why countries in the West are moving away from it. So, why are we investing in a dying form of energy?