Energy companies are still withholding important information about the origin of the coal they use, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Somo, which carries out research into multinational business practices.
As a result, it is likely that coal imported into the Netherlands comes from mines where abuses of human rights and the environment are taking place, says the report.
The energy companies say they cannot disclose the information because of contractual obligations with the mines. ‘But this is a smoke-screen,’ says SOMO researcher Joseph Wilde-Ramsing. ‘It is the energy companies themselves who have non-disclosure clauses written into their contracts.’
Another argument is that because the coal is mixed, it is not possible to trace its source. But according to Wilde-Ramsing, SOMO was able to trace sources by checking the ports of departure for ships that moored in Amsterdam.
Most of these came from Columbia, but other important sources are Russia, Australia, South Africa and the US.
The companies – E.ON, Vattenfall/Nuon, GDF Suez-Electrabel, RVVE/Essent, DONG Energy and EPZ (Delta) – formed the Dutch Coal Dialogue eighteen months ago and promised to increase transparency in the supply chain. They have failed to do so, Somo claims.
With several companies planning to build new coal-fired power stations in the Netherlands, the capacity for coal-based electricity generation will more than double.
‘And nobody wants their electricity to be linked to evictions of people from their villages in other countries or serious air, water and soil pollution,’ says Rolf Schipper of Greenpeace, which collaborated with SOMO on the report.