Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Carbon emissions, public nuisance and Eskom

ClimateIntel reports on the case of Connecticut v. American Electric Power, Inc., where the plaintiffs alleged that the power plants’ carbon emissions cause a public nuisance by contributing to climate change. Seven states and the City of New York filed suit in July 2004 against the five electrical utility companies alleged to be the country’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide. No decision has been reached yet.

The important question is whether such litigation (under tort law) is (i) a possibility and (ii) has a chance of succeeding in carbon-intensive South Africa? If this is the case the country is running a major risk as most of our electricity is generated by Eskom, the second highest polluting power company in the world. See also earlier blogpost.

A frustrating visit to Eskom's website, pre-occupied with load shedding, did not give any clues whether the company is doing some high level strategic planning on these emerging risks (and possibly opportunities). If Eskom is, we would like to know about it.

As the electricity crises is demonstrating so clearly, this is not only a company risk, but a country risk we are facing.

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