UN human rights envoy asks to join case over Eskom, Sasol air pollution

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The United Nations special rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David Boyd, has asked to join a case brought last year against the South African government by activists over air pollution caused by Eskom and Sasol.

"The case raises an important issue relating to States’ obligations to protect the enjoyment of human rights from environmental harm," Lawyers for Human Rights, a group representing Boyd, said in court documents. The environmentalists argue that clean air is a constitutional right.

The case focuses on air pollution in the so-called Highveld Priority Area in eastern South Africa, which is the site of about 12 coal-fired Eskom power plants, a Sasol oil refinery and coal-to-fuels and chemicals plants owned by the company.

A Greenpeace study for the third quarter of 2018 showed that parts of the area had the worst nitrogen dioxide emissions from power plants of any area in the world.

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