On 19th & 20th June 2018, the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) in conjunction with Natural Justice and WWF Kenya ran a workshop in Nairobi that brought together about 50 religious leaders to discuss issues around coal usage in Kenya. The meeting was aimed at giving the religious leaders an opportunity to investigate the reasons why the Kenyan Government is seeking to pursue coal power and mining, and the environmental, social and economic impacts of the same.
On the 19th June, presentations were made on the effectiveness of environmental impact assessments (EIA) as an environmental decision-making tool, climate change and the health impacts of coal. Additionally, project affected persons from Kitui and Lamu shared their perspectives on the planned developments in their counties. On the second day of the workshop, experts from Kenya, South Africa and China discussed air pollution from coal power plants, the health impacts of mining and using coal, and the economics of the proposed coal plant in Lamu. Religious leaders also shared their teachings on the importance of environmental protection.
At the conclusion of the workshop, a small task force of religious leaders was formed and mandated to carry out further investigations on coal usage in Kenya. This included suggested meetings with relevant government officials and site visits to potentially affected communities.
The two-day meeting spurred a healthy evidence-based discussion around the proposed mining and usage of coal and served as a starting point on which religious leaders, as important voices in the country, will further investigate coal in Kenya.