FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contacts: Stefanie Spear, As You Sow, (216) 387-1609, firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Passoff, Proxy Impact, (510) 215-2222, email@example.com
Oakland, California—July 18, 2018— A group of 56 institutional and individual investors representing nearly $713 billion in AUM sent a letter to General Electric (GE) today calling on the company to reconsider its recent decision to acquire a 20% stake in Kenya’s proposed Lamu coal plant. Lamu is one of Kenya’s top tourist destinations and home to an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The proposed coal plant faces fierce opposition, both locally and internationally.
The investor letter highlights the concern that the proposed coal plant will have environmental, health and climate impacts and pose significant threats to local communities and industries like fishing and tourism—industries that Lamu citizens depend on for their livelihoods. Further, the coal plant will undermine Kenya’s commitment to, and GE’s public support for, the Paris Climate Agreement and will significantly increase electricity rates in Kenya. Finally, the letter notes that the Lamu coal plant is a counterproductive step for GE that “is likely to lead to reputational risks that jeopardize its social license to operate.”
As You Sow and Proxy Impact are leading U.S. and European investors in calling for GE to avoid this detrimental project.
“GE’s investment in Kenya’s first coal plant will be bad for people, the planet and the bottom line,” Michael Passoff, CEO of Proxy Impact, said. “Kenya is sufficient in energy at this time, and future demand could be met by the rapid growth of renewable energy, which is seen as the preferred and cheaper energy source.”
“We find the decision to take an ownership stake in such a controversial project alarming,” Danielle Fugere, President of As You Sow, stated. “As investors, we are concerned that the company is not sufficiently considering the community, climate and reputational risks that will come from the Lamu coal plant project. We look forward to engaging with GE to address how it can help bring low cost, clean energy projects to communities like Lamu.”
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As You Sow is a nonprofit organization that promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building and innovative legal strategies. See our resolutions here.
Proxy Impact provides shareholder engagement and environmental, social and governance (ESG) proxy voting services that promote sustainable and responsible business practices.
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Asked to comment after seeing the press release, renown Renewable Energy Expert Professor Dan Kammen had this to say:
“From my published analysis, the absurdly costly economics of the Lamu coal-fired power plant have been clear for years, and so the announcement that major institutional investors with over US $700 billion under management have urged GE, and GE has apparently agreed, to reconsider their support and investment in the Lamu coal plant.
Most importantly, this decision opens the door for what Kenya really needs, investment and partnership to take advantage of the geothermal, wind (on or off-shore) energy resources that are both cheaper that coal in the long run, and provide greater job creation. That partnership is one that will provide inexpensive, affordable energy, and support the Government of Kenya’s important energy access and business development agendas.”
Background: Professor Dan Kammen and his team developed and published the SWITCH-Kenya model in 2017 using state of the art technical and economic data from East Africa, and have identified a range of clean energy investment opportunities in Kenya that are far cheaper than the Amu Coal fired power plant for Lamu.
Reference (also attached): Juan Pablo Carvallo, Brittany J. Shaw, Nkiruka I. Avila, and Daniel M. Kammen(2017) “Sustainable low-carbon expansion for the power sector of an emerging economy: the case of Kenya” Environmental Science & Technology (ES&T), 51 (17), pp 10232–10242 DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b00345
Web reference: http://rael.berkeley.edu/project/SWITCH