Environmental rights groups have called on the government to clamp down on Eskom’s alleged non-compliance with the country’s emission standards.
This comes after a study by the Finland-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air found Eskom’s power plants could be responsible for almost 80,000 air-pollution-related deaths from 2025 until they are shut down.
Earthlife Africa and Groundwork, represented by the Centre for Environmental Rights, filed submissions to the government-appointed expert panel on air pollution, raising the siren.
The study by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air is a modelling exercise to estimate excess deaths if Eskom didn’t meet the country’s emission laws.
The research on air pollution by Eskom’s ailing fleet of power stations makes damaging findings against the power utility.
An environmental health campaigner at Groundwork, Rico Euripidou, said the worst-case scenario is the loss of thousands of lives.
“This is in the context of sub-standard air quality requirements in our laws. Other countries are expected to comply with much stricter environmental standards compared to South Africa.”
Euripidou called on the government’s expert panel on air pollution not to grant Eskom any more leeway in compliance with the minimum emission standards: “There is no not complying with the law.”
The Mpumalanga highveld region and parts of Gauteng remain hotspots for air pollution.