The Power Shift Campaign is challenging Mauritius’ privately owned, non-renewable energy sector with a solar-powered, cooperative alternative, through which struggling farmers can improve local food production. Their actions have thwarted plans for a new coal plant, improved government transparency, and acquired land to produce solar power when they get the go-ahead.
When Mauritius’ government secretly licenced Malaysian multinational CT Power to open a new coal power plant in 2013, social organisations took action, getting the plans shelved and all secret documents regarding negotiations with private sector energy companies released. Not only this, the movement pushed the government to create a National Energy Audit Commission to review Mauritius’ energy policies, and to set much higher renewable energy goals.
Realising that strong alternatives to non-renewable energy needed to be put forward, the committee set up the Renewable Energy Collective (KLR) and, together with the Centre for Alternative Research and Studies (CARES), launched the Power Shift campaign. This in turn led to the establishment of the People’s Cooperative Renewable Energy Coalition.
Supported by youth, trade unions, social movements, the progressive political party and the island’s sugar planters, the People’s Cooperative formed a plan to tackle the country’s energy and food supply problems in one stroke – by placing solar panels on the land of unemployed sugar planters to generate renewable energy to help produce food in nearby greenhouses.
Agreements have been set up with local sugar planters who have lost their jobs to use their land for solar power when the (KLR) gets a licence. The People’s Cooperative bid to enter the energy market has been stalled by the obstruction of multinationals and oligarchs, as well as government unwillingness to permit solar energy production, yet signifiant wins have been made.
“The participatory, solution-oriented approach of this initiative goes beyond lobbying for renewable energy to tackling environmental conservation, food security, livelihoods and redistribution of economic resources and benefits.”
– Agnes Midi Keita
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