(CNN)When the Ghanaian government agreed to coordinate with Shenzen Energy Group, a Chinese energy company, to build a 7,000-megawatt coal power plant in the country’s Ekumfi district, Chibeze Ezekiel was concerned. He knew the proposed plant’s wastewater, ash pit and mercury emissions posed serious health and environmental risks to the local fishing and farming communities. Access to clean drinking water was under threat from the plant’s sulfur dioxide emissions and associated acid rain, and there would have been a clear impact on the regional climate. Ezekiel, who is from the capital, Accra, was already the founder of an NGO focused on good environmental governance and started what became a successful grassroots youth movement to stop the construction of the $1.5 billion plant, which included a shipping port to bring in coal. He ran a social media campaign emphasizing the threats of the proposed plans to the environment and local communities, detailing the possible long-term job creation that might come with a shift to renewable energy. As a direct result of Goldman Environmental Prize winner Chibeze Ezekiel’s grassroots campaign, the Ghanaian Minister of Environment canceled the construction of a 700-megawatt (MW) coal power plant and adjoining shipping port. The Ghanaian government… Read full this story
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