Voices from Under a Dark Cloud
SYNOPSIS: “Coal is life and coal is death” according to the people of the province of Mpumalanga - a Zulu word for the place where the sun rises in South Africa. Coal is life because there are 12 power stations and 68 coal mines concentrated in the province with the majority of South Africa’s economy running on coal. But for the people living in the region, it also means respiratory diseases, air pollution, and water contamination. It was recently stated that ESKOM – the South African power utility - is the biggest emitter of sulphur dioxide on the planet. The world is calling all for a reduction of carbon emissions, and the countries that ignore this will eventually be sanctioned. But what about the 600 000 jobs that the coal industry supports? The people of Mpumalanga experience this cognitive dissonance at close quarters. Their involvement and inclusion in what has been termed “The Just Transition” from coal to renewable energy is critical for their survival and the possible success of the process over the next 40 years. This short documentary speaks to community members, municipality representatives, scientists, business representatives, Union representatives and NGO’s, harvesting a palette of opinion and experience that set up the questions: What does a Just Transition mean, how can it be inclusive of the poor and most affected, is there the political will to realise the transition, can South Africa step up to the challenge, and what needs to be done for the coal industry to become a sunset industry?
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