Independent local coalition Egyptians Against Coal aim to advocate excluding coal use from Egypt’s energy industry by 2017 due to its hazardous environmental threats, the group announced in a meeting on Tuesday.
In mid-September, the Ministry of Environment approved studies made by seven cement factories to use coal in their production process instead of natural gas. The factories include Lafarge, Suez Cement, and Arabian Cement, among others.
However, several factories allegedly started using coal in their cement production long before the approval, in Helwan and Alexandria.
During their meeting, the coalition discussed potential ways to raise awareness and advocacy on both the level of individuals and decision makers. The initiative brings together researchers, economists, lawyers, as well as journalists who are interested in environmental issues.
“We are about to issue a booklet that illustrates everything related to coal use and another booklet by the end of the month about alternative energy resources for coal to produce clean energy,” said Amena Sharaf, a researcher at the Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR).
According to the coalition, coal use in some factories caused severe harm for its labour and their families living nearby. Many of them do not know about other friendlier energy alternatives that could be used.
The use of coal in Egypt raised many concerns on both the local and official levels when the idea was first suggested, including among then-minister of environment Laila Iskandar. The amendments stated that coal will be used on a large scale without stating a definitive number on the industries in which it will be used.
The amended regulation read: “The industries include any other institution that gets an approval from the Cabinet to use coal.”
In May, a group of non-governmental organisations demanded in a joint statement to limit the use of coal, amend local regulations to be compatible with European standards, and never allow the use of coal in residential areas.
However in a press conference during the same month, cement factory owners said the specifications set by the Ministry of Environment on trade, transport, coal storage, and within the energy mix, are already stricter than the European specifications.