December 14th 2017

Society / Environment

Is Kenya prepared for the ongoing climate change negotiations?

In order to achieve a desirable outcome in any negotiation, one key component is clarification of targets and pathway to achievement of the set targets.

By Jonathan OdongoThursday, 17 Nov 2016 16:56 EAT

During the 21st United Nations climate change conference (COP21) held last year in Paris, France, nations came up with an ambitious plan, popularly referred to as Paris Agreement, to cut greenhouse gases (GHGs) emissions, prevent global temperature rise, enhance adaptation to the impacts of climate change, foster climate resilience and commit climate finance to assist poor and vulnerable countries to undertake climate action. The Agreement came to effect on November 4.

Now, in Marrakech, Morocco, the world has gathered for the 22nd Conference of Parties (COP 22) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to operationalize or discuss the way forward in so far as implementation of the Paris Agreement is concerned. For this reason, COP 22 has been baptised ‘COP’ of action.

Prior to the Paris climate change conference, countries submitted their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), highlighting commitments and actions to meet the targets of the agreement. In the INDCs, each country pointed out requirements and support needed for successful implementation of the proposed actions.

Kenya, for example, committed to reduce greenhouse gases emissions by 30%, achieve 90% renewable energy and ensure enhanced resilience to climate change, all by 2030. This, according to the INDC, will require ‘over USD 40 billion for mitigation and adaptation actions across sectors up to 2030’. In the country’s partially conditional INDC, it is stated that Kenya needs ‘international support in the form of finance, investment, technology development and transfer and capacity building’ to fully implement the INDC.

Partially conditional INDC means that apart from domestic funds and resources, the country needs international support to implement its INDC. However, the 7-page document is vague on a number of things: the exact figure needed from international community and how much will come from domestic coffers, the percentage of the ‘over USD40 billion’ that will go to mitigation and the amount slated for adaptation, the specific projects under mitigation and adaptation actions, the kind of technological support needed among other issues.

Also, due to climate change, lives have been lost and people have lost their livelihoods. Unfortunately, the document says nothing on climate instigated loss and damage. Morocco’s INDC (that has since been converted to Nationally Determined Contribution through a ratification process) is clear on the amount of monetary support needed from the international community and the domestic contribution.

On the other hand, as a low emission country Kenya has contributed less to global warming. Instead, the country has been adversely affected by change in climate chiefly because of dependence on climate sensitive economic sectors and low adaptive capacity. As much as cutting greenhouse gas emissions is important in the fight against climate change, Kenya, being a low emitter of GHGs, needs more support on adaptation than mitigation. The focus of the Kenyan delegation during the negotiations should therefore be majorly on support for adaptation programmes, compensation for loss and damage and emissions cutting in developed countries.

With the vague and 'overly general INDC’ and deficiency of focus on the key issues affecting the country, it is not easy to establish solid and effective ground for negotiations. In order to achieve a desirable outcome in any negotiation, one key component is clarification of targets and pathway to achievement of the set targets.

A clear, solid, comprehensive plan that captures the reality of climate impact is required to reach the proposed mitigation and adaptation targets as well as address loss and damage. Otherwise the outcome of the negotiations might be meaningless to the Kenyans already bearing the burden of climate change.

The writer is the founder and executive director of the Kenya Environmental Education Network

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