Campaign Against Coal, Egypt

In the wake of the 2011 revolution, electricity shortages prompted President Morsi to overturn a ban on coal imports in July 2013, prompting the ire of environmentalists and health professionals.


In the wake of the 2011 revolution, persistent energy shortages prompted President Morsi to overturn a long-standing ban on coal imports for the cement industry in July 2013. The cement industry enjoys a large lobbying power in Egypt was successfully able to claim high losses, pushing to advance the coal agenda. Thus, in 2015, under current President al-Sisi, the country’s environmental law was formally changed to allow the use of coal by heavy industry, and to permit coal-fired electricity generation (1). The law was also amended to eliminate a blanket ban on the use of coal and heavy fuels in residential areas.

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Basic Data
NameCampaign Against Coal, Egypt
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Fossil Fuels and Climate Justice/Energy
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Pollution related to transport (spills, dust, emissions)
Coal extraction and processing
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsThe peak demand for the year 2012 has reached 27000 MW. The demand for electricity in the country is growing at an estimated rate of 1,500 to 2,000 megawatts a year leading experts to expect it to reach 54,200 MW by the year 2027 (6).
Type of PopulationUrban
Start Date01/07/2013
Company Names or State EnterprisesMarubeni from Japan
Doosan Group (Doosan) from Republic of Korea
National Cement Company
El Sewedy from Egypt - In 2016, the government agreed with a consortium of ­Japan’s Marubeni and Egypt’s El Sewedy to do a feasibility study within two years for a coal-fired plant near Marsa Matruh on the Mediterranean
Relevant government actorsEgyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA), Environment Ministry
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEgyptians Against Coal (EAC), Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, Land Center for Human Rights, the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), Platform, Egypt Climate Change Coalition, Dayma, Green Arm of Nahdat al-Mahrousa,, National Conservation Egypt and the Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LOW (some local organising)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingInternational ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCreation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Global warming
Health ImpactsVisible: Other environmental related diseases
Potential: Deaths
OtherCancer from breathing coal dust
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseProject temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesEgyptians Against Coal put forward ideas to diversify energy supplies, pointing notably to declining costs of solar energy, set to become cheaper than oil.

Anti-coal activists also mobilized public support by linking closed cabinet sessions on coal policy to the revolutionary struggle for transparent and accountable government.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Activist argue that coal went from being an issue ignored by most households, to a national topic of discussion, thus leaving a tangible mark on the public’s memory. While small in overall numbers, the campaign was able to influence media coverage and official discourse on energy issues, framing government policy on energy in terms of popular concerns about social justice and corruption.

Importantly, the anti-coal movement also linked up with existing community struggles against cement companies.

However, it is unclear what the reasons were behind the decision to suspent plans for coal-fired power plants. It is also unclear what will happen in 5 years.
Sources and Materials

[3] Dina Zayed and Jeannie Sowers, The Campaign Against Coal in Egypt, Middle East Report, No. 271, Vol 44, No. 2, Summer 2014, pp. 29-35
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[4] Reuters UPDATE 2-Egypt's cabinet approves use of coal for power generation
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[1] In post-revolution Egypt, a fierce fight over coal imports
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[2] The National; Patrick Werr - March 9, 2016

"Egypt’s case for coal is now on less firm ground"
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(6) Overview of the Electricity Sector in Egypt
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[5] Al Arabiya News, By Sonia Farid

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

"Is Egypt on the verge of an environmental disaster?"
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Media Links

Facebook page, Egyptians Against Coal
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(6) Mongabay. In post-revolution Egypt, a fierce fight over coal imports,

by Louise Sarant, 5 April 2017
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Other Documents

Dirty coal A shipment of coal at the Port of Alexandria before approval for imports was granted by Egypt’s environmental regulator. One of a series photographs, taken by an anonymous photographer, that were leaked to the press in 2013.
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Egyptians Against Coal Egyptians Against Coal logo
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Egyptian NGO Habi Center for Environmental Rights rallies for climate action in 2009. The anti-coal movement helped energize and raise the profile of Egypt’s environmental movement. Photo courtesy of
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Meta Information
Last update28/02/2018