In a major blow to fossil interests in Africa, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has declined to fund a coal-fired power plant in Kenya, and otherwise signalled a strong turn away from future coal projects and towards renewables.
On the sidelines of a conference in South Africa, AfDB president Akinwumi Adesina told Reuters the bank’s refusal to underwrite the proposed 1,050-MW Lamu power plant owed in part to worries about “stranded assets,” but also to deep-rooted, ongoing concerns about environmental impacts.
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Coming five months after Kenya’s National Environmental Tribunal revoked the project’s licence, the AfDB’s “retreat from coal will make it harder for the Lamu project to progress,” Reuters writes.
While Adesina signaled the AfDB’s decision during the UN climate action summit in September, the actual withdrawal marks a seismic shift for an institution that has long been a major backer of coal in Africa. The bank has “lent more than €1.5 billion (US$1.65 billion) to South African utility Eskom for its Medupi coal plant and more than €50 million for the Sendou coal plant in Senegal,” in the past decade, writes Reuters.
The AfDB “still plans to finance flue gas desulphurization units at Medupi to mitigate sulphur emissions produced by burning coal,” the news agency adds.
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