The coal-burning Moneypoint power plant in Co Clare should be closed as soon as possible, according to non-governmental organisation (NGO) Christian Aid.

In a report released today, the NGO argues that the coal-burning plant is damaging the environment both in Ireland, through its emissions, and in areas where its coal supply is mined.

The Christian Aid report titled 'Undermining Human Rights: Ireland,the ESB and Colombian Coal' has also called on the ESB, which runs Moneypoint, to support the establishment of an independent investigation into the impact on the environment and human rights of people displaced by the Cerrejón coalmine in Colombia.

The call follows a report last year by the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which recommended Ireland should "consider stopping purchasing coal from the Cerrejón mine complex".

In a statement to RTÉ News, the ESB said it had not purchased coal from the Colombian mine since 2018. An ESB spokesman also said that the volume of coal purchased for Moneypoint dropped from 1 million tonnes in 2018 to 72,000 tonnes in 2019. It said none of the coal purchased in 2019 came from South America.

Both Christian Aid and the UN have called for the ESB and Ireland to support an independent inquiry into the environmental and human rights impact of Cerrejón mine.

"Restitution and compensation" for people displaced by the mine's operations has also been called for by both the UN and Christian Aid.

The ESB says it is committed the responsible sourcing of coal and has joined the Bettercoal organisation. Bettercoal', which is run by coal suppliers, says it is "working towards a global responsible coal supply chain".

A Bettercoal assessment of Cerrejón found the mine meets or substantially meets most of its obligations in the areas of Business Ethics, Human rights and Social Performance and Environment.

The Christian Aid report claims Bettercoal's assessments lack "independence and transparency" and called for the ESB to "recognise the shortcomings of the Bettercoal initiative and, with the collaboration of concerned civil society organisations, seek to strengthen Bettercoal's monitoring, reporting and transparency to make it a meaningful mechanism".

Christian Aid's report also calls for the ESB to "develop a robust public human rights policy and develop processes to indentify and monitor human rights in its supply chains".

ESB says it believes Bettercoal "provides the best platform to achieve continuous improvement in the mining industry" and that company management conducted a number of visits to the mine site to meet "directly with workers, community leaders and trade union officials".

The Christian Aid report is also critical of the Irish Government for signing up to UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGP's) without legislating for their implementation. It is also critical of the ESB for what it says are failings to carry out due diligence inspections on the source of its coal.

The ESB says generation at Moneypoint has "declined dramatically" over recent years. It says it intends to stop burning coal at Moneypoint by 2025.