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Europe backs out of fossil fuel projects

By Roselyne Obala | November 28th 2019


The European Union has urged the Kenyan government to increase its focus on generating power through renewable energy sources as the European Investment Bank (EIB) plans to stop financing fossil fuel projects.

The bank said it would stop financing oil, gas and coal projects after 2021, where it invested two billion euros (Sh225 billion) in 2018 to reduce the impact fossil fuels have on the environment.

EU Ambassador to Kenya Simon Mordue backed the decision, saying it is in line with the commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

“Renewable energy is the future. We will no longer finance fossil fuel and this is the right way to go,” he said, challenging Kenya to be on the front line of climate change mitigation by implementing clean energy initiatives.

The decision by EIB follows that by the African Development Bank (AfDB) that recently said it would not finance coal projects going forward.

AfDB had been in discussions with Kenya to finance construction of the Lamu coal power plant and the decision will see Amu Power – the promoters of the plant – go back to the drawing board.

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The coal plant has in the past received support from the government, which said the project would help diversify Kenya’s power generation mix.

It is expected to generate 1,050 megawatts for the national grid, but its planned construction has drawn sharp criticism from climate activists.

Civil society groups have claimed that the power plant be halted as it will have harmful and irreversible effects on the ecosystem of Lamu County.

“It is commendable that the bank has stopped lending to coal plants. We financed the multi-billion Lake Turkana Wind Power project in Marsabit County which is clean energy,” said Mr Mordue.

EIB has also funded a number of solar projects in Kenya, some to supply power in off-grid areas.

Mordue regretted that the country is suffering from the effects of climate change through drought and landslides that have led to destruction of property and livestock, hunger, injuries and deaths.

“We have visited parts of this country, such as Marsabit, Turkana, West Pokot and (it is) escalating. I am absolutely delighted that the bank has banned the fossil fuel financing,“ he said.

Developed nations under the G20 have been accused of contributing 80 per cent of the emissions and therefore the mitigation of climate change is vital.

“The EU ambition is legislating proposal to address mitigation of climate change. In the 100 days of the new EU office they are focusing on being compliant by 2050. The continent will be completely neutral and spur economic opportunities,” the ambassador said.

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