He knew the proposed plant’s wastewater, ash pit and mercury emissions posed serious health and environmental risks to the local fishing and farming communities. Access to clean drinking water was under threat from the plant’s sulfur dioxide emissions and associated acid rain, and there would have been a clear impact on the regional climate.
Ezekiel, who is from the capital, Accra, was already the founder of an NGO focused on good environmental governance and started what became a successful grassroots youth movement to stop the construction of the $1.5 billion plant, which included a shipping port to bring in coal.
He ran a social media campaign emphasizing the threats of the proposed plans to the environment and local communities, detailing the possible long-term job creation that might come with a shift to renewable energy.
“If the world is trying to move away from environmental destruction because of the fossil fuel, then Africa shouldn’t be seen as perpetuating that era,” said Ezekiel over a webcall.
He was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa on November 30, which honors the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists.
Ezekiel’s victory is but one of many battles raging across the continent between activists, Chinese companies and African governments.
Despite the reputational risk, Chinese companies have continued to finance the construction of coal plants, drawing ire from environmental activists, while African leaders are choosing quick fix solutions to electrify their countries.
China’s dirty belt and road
“Coal has no place in Covid-19 recovery plans,” he said via video link during an online summit hosted by the International Energy Agency (IEA).
But despite these promises to phase out dirty, high-carbon projects at home and abroad, Chinese banks and companies are still financing seven coal plants in Africa like the one planned for the Ekumfi district, with 13 more in the pipeline, mostly south of the Sahara.
It was the China-Africa Development fund that was supposed to finance the coal power plant in Ghana, a private equity fund entirely backed by China Development Bank, a state government policy bank.
Since 2000 the China Development Bank and the Export-Import Bank of China alone have supplied…