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Botswana Taps into the World’s Largest Coal Reserve


No climate talks can stop Botswana’s government. The country has allowed mining of the world’s largest untouched coal reserve.

Last month, millions united in the name of saving our planet. People went on the streets and vouched for governments to implement climate-smart policies.

The activities that took place in the major cities in the world, gave a glimpse of hope. For a moment there, people started to get the feel that we can slow down climate change, that we can do something to ensure safe homes for the future generations.

However, it might turn out that while we believed something can change, certain governmental officials, who only have profit and immediate gratification in mind, choose to turn off their TV’s.

The news came from Southern Africa- Botswana to be more precise. The country is home of the largest untouched coal reserve in the world. The majority of it is still underground, and it has remained there purely due to poor infrastructure to facilitate mining and transport. The reserve is estimated to contain roughly 28.5 billion tonnes of coal.

To put this in context of emissions, Joeri Rogelj at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, made some rough calculations. He estimated that Botswana’s coal would add up to 84 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This is about 25 per cent of what the world could emit if we are to have at least a chance for staying under 1.5 degrees of warming.

But Botswana’s government does not want to hear about it. They have allowed Masama project to open the first privately run coal mine in the country. The mine is currently producing around 80,000 tonnes per month. Next year, they are looking to increase this to 100,000. The aim is to sell this to South Africa, where coal is the major source of energy.

This is definitely a pure financially-driven decision, which is neither viable nor sustainable. The whole world is moving to solar power, and Botswana has all the tools that are needed to be a leader here. However, it seems that someone with a personal vendetta yet again had the winning set.

There have been countless times over the past years that I have heard versions of the following: “The developed nations were developed on the back of fossil fuels… [They] should increase cut backs to allow developing nations space, especially in Africa”. How about you? (quoting Masama’s  CEO Andre Boje here).  Sounds familiar, right?

I never really understood the logic behind it. It sounds a bit like- you killed a member of my family, now you should let me do the same.

Any thoughts?

Image source: Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg

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  1. This is simply a obscene opinion piece that lacks merit and credibility. As a journalist you have shown yourself to be shallow and ethnocentric in this poor example of an attempted levity. There is so much that is factually inaccurate with your stance that its impossible to respond to it in a meaningful way.
    I will give you a forum that will allow you to attempt to defend your position. Email me and we can work out the details. You can Google Me and then decide if you want to go down this path.


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