COP25: African youth deliver letter to Chinese delegation, convey Lamu community concerns about proposed Lamu coal plant in Kenya

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) is the majority financier of Kenya’s proposed first coal plant; state-owned firms PowerChina and China Huadian Corporation are contracted to build, operate, and maintain it

Coal in Kenya
4 min readDec 13, 2019

Friday 13 December 2019
UN Climate Change Conference (COP 25)
Madrid, Spain

Today, at the UN Climate Change Conference in Madrid, a group of Kenyan and other African youth delivered letters Chinese government delegation, conveying longstanding concerns from Save Lamu and the potential affected community regarding the proposed, Chinese-funded Lamu coal plant.

The African Youth delegates requested the Chinese delegation’s assistance in delivering the letter to the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, ICBC, the majority financier of the proposed 1050MW Lamu coal plant in Lamu, Kenya.

For over three years, ICBC has continued to ignore the Lamu community regarding the proposed investment in the 1050MW Lamu coal power plant. Save Lamu has repeatedly attempted to reach the bank.

The community seeks to convey its concerns regarding the profound impacts that Lamu coal plant, Kenya’s first, would have on their community: economic, social, and environmental.

Lamu coal plant would directly contribute to global climate change in at least three ways. The coal plant would emit greenhouse gasses and toxic pollution, raising Kenya’s emissions by 13%. The coal plant would harm Lamu’s fragile ecosystem, filled with dense forest, mangrove, and seagrass vegetation that serves as a powerful carbon sink. And the 1050MW coal plant would lock the country into coal power for 25+ years and effectively displace the renewable energy industry.

Receiving no response from ICBC, for the past year, Save Lamu has actively sought the assistance of the Chinese government in reaching the bank, including hand-delivering letters to the Chinese Embassy in Nairobi, waiting three hours and braving a police blockade.

This afternoon, approaching the Chinese delegation office at COP25 in Madrid, the African Youth delegates met two members of the Chinese delegation, one a finance officer.

The officials stated that they do not take responsibility for the actions of a bank. The youth expressed understanding but requested the delegation’s assistance in delivering Save Lamu’s letters to ICBC. The Chinese delegates accepted the letters while stating that they cannot guarantee that ICBC will reply.

As Save Lamu stated,

The proposed Lamu coal plant would profoundly affect our community and have significant consequences for our country’s greenhouse gas emissions and climate impact.

We request your assistance in reaching the majority financier of the project, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, to secure meetings with key stakeholders to convey and discuss our concerns. Lamu coal plant project is financed by ICBC and to be developed by PowerChina and China Huadian Corporation alongside Kenyan partners.

Since 2016, we have struggled to reach ICBC regarding our concerns despite repeated requests for the bank to meet with and engage our community. We have also followed the development of the Green Credit Guidelines and recently ICBC’s pledge to the Principles for Responsible Banking. In June 2019, our colleagues met with Ambassador Wu Peng, who expressed that China will not move forward on a project that is not supported by the Kenyan government and the Kenyan people.

Our community strongly opposes the project but has not been able to engage further nor to receive a reply from ICBC. We have attached our detailed letters, which we have delivered by email, by mail, in person, by phone and fax to ICBC and relevant government authorities since 2016. With major developments to the project in 2019, the matter has become even more urgent.

We would appreciate your delegation’s assistance in identifying and reaching the relevant people, to facilitate this communications with ICBC.



Coal in Kenya

Compiled research and news about ongoing attempts to develop a coal industry in Kenya. #deCOALonize