Coal is one of the dirtiest energy sources in use, and coal plants still generate 38% of the world’s electricity. Chibeze Ezekiel from Ghana has achieved some success in stopping these plants being built. In 2013, he’d just returned from a climate conference in Istanbul when he learned Ghana’s government had started discussing a proposal to build a large coal power plant, the country’s first.
350 Ghana Reducing Our Carbon was founded by him. He began traveling to the villages where the planned plant would be constructed and educated them about their potential impacts on rivers and air quality as well the health implications. Locals were also educated about renewable energy’s declining cost. “We were not just saying no to coal; we were offering an alternative,” Ezekiel says.
The local residents were ready to question official claims when the government presented the plan to them in 2015. Ezekiel calls it his “submarine approach.” “We came out of nowhere to bombard them from all angles—social media, press conferences, community forums.” And it worked. On Oct. 10, 2016, Ghana’s Environmental Minister announced that the coal plant would not be built. Less than a year later the nation’s President said that all new power projects would use renewable energy only. Ezekiel was especially proud of this. “If we had allowed a coal plant to be established in 2015, I am sure there would have been more.”
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