It’s a David and Goliath scenario: the tiny fishing village of Totoral in the Atacama desert in northern Chile takes legal action against powerful energy companies – and wins! German energy giant E.ON, in a joint venture with a Brazilian partner company, had planned to build a gigantic 2,100 megawatt power plant there. The “Castilla” project would have been South America’s largest coal-fired power plant and would have increased Chile’s carbon emissions by 40 per cent. But in a ruling handed down at the end of August, the country’s Supreme Court halted the 4.5 billion dollar project. Local people had brought the action due to fears that the plant would harm health and the environment.
Germanwatch congratulates the people of Totoral on their success and has nominated E.ON for the 2013 “Public Eye Award” (www.publiceye.ch) for its behaviour in relation to the Castilla project. The prize is “awarded” every year during the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos to companies whose social and ecological misdeeds have been particularly flagrant. E.ON’s advertising claims that it is investing in the “future of energy” and it is a shareholder in the DESERTEC Industrial Initiative (DII). That being the case, E.ON would do well to invest in solar energy generation, not in dirty coal-fired power, in the sun-rich Atacama desert.