Creecy orders disclosure of heavy polluters’ greenhouse gas emissions data
Creecy upheld the appeal lodged by the Centre for Environmental Rights (CER) against the refusal of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (Deff) to disclose key GHG emission data and GHG emission-reduction plans for 16 heavy polluters.
The decision compels the department to provide the CER with GHG emissions records of emitters - including Eskom, Sasol, ArcelorMittal South Africa, Exxaro, PPC, South32 and Anglo American - seven days after the national lockdown.
Last February, the CER filed an access to information request under the Promotion of Access to Information Act.
In response, the Deff provided the CER with watered down records of the companies’ annual GHG emissions, and blacked out information, such as the companies’ anticipated emission reductions for the next five years.
In her decision dated April 5, Creecy found that Deff’s reasons to refuse the information were inadequate, lacking in substance and detail.
“The overall purpose of the administration of justice requires the disclosure of the anticipated projected emissions and the data relating to anticipated and actual emission reductions.”
She found the redaction of the anticipated and actual GHG emissions was unjustifiable and against the public interest.
Creecy was “satisfied that public interest outweighs any harm that releasing this information may have”.
CER attorney Nicole Loser said last week (on Thursday) that Creecy’s decision sent a strong signal that big polluting corporates cannot hide behind the government when it came to GHG emission data.
“Data on companies’ anticipated GHG emissions are invaluable to enable the public to properly assess emission reduction strategies of polluting companies and to inform the public and shareholders not only of the climate risks to which these companies are exposed, but the risks they pose for the whole planet,” Loser said.
She said the climate crisis adversely impacted all people, particularly vulnerable communities, young people and those with existing compromised health conditions. “The public needs to know how companies plan to reduce their GHG emissions, in order to hold them accountable when they fail to do so,” said Loser.
South Africa has been sued by environmental activists over the pollution caused by Eskom and Sasol.