Co-authored with Jeta Xharra, editor in chief of Kosovo's current affairs TV program 'Life in Kosovo'
People across Kosovo are banding together to save lives. 825 lives, to be exact. That's the number of Kosovars the World Bank estimates die every year due to pollution from coal-fired power plants. But instead of helping Kosovo transition to safer, clean energy, and despite its own estimates of coal's deadly cost, the World Bank and the U.S. Government are pushing for a new coal plant that will burn the dirtiest form of coal, lignite, in Pristina, one of Europe's most polluted cities. Now KOSID, a consortium of nongovernmental organizations in Kosovo, is launching a series of primetime television ads revealing the exorbitant costs citizens from this impoverished country will bear if the project goes forward -- 100 million euro from their own pockets. Between the monetary price and the lives lost, the new ads ask: Is a coal plant really worth this cost?
This isn't the first time KOSID has raised its voice about this deadly and expensive coal plant. In response to the complete disregard for their health and welfare, they launched a series of evocative ads exposing the dangerous health risks of the plan last year. But their calls have fallen on deaf ears.
Perhaps the most frustrating fact that neither the World Bank nor the U.S. Government are interested in clean energy in Kosovo is just how far superior these options are for this young country. The Bank's former chief clean-energy czar, Dr. Daniel Kammen, released a study showing that clean energy can power Kosovo, and do it more cheaply than coal while simultaneously creating more jobs.
It's time for the World Bank and the U.S. State Department to heed the increasing calls from local organizations in Kosovo to move the country into the 21st century and embrace the clean energy technology. That can save lives by powering Kosovo without the deadly pollution and high price tag tied to coal.
As KOSID's new ad concludes: "the solution is not to use more, it's to waste less." It's time the World Bank heeded that lesson with the scarce development dollars it deploys around the world. It's time to stop wasting this money on coal plants that kill people when we have cheaper, abundant clean energy options.